The Lukewarmness of Hot Pursuit

Director Anne Fletcher has long been on a commercial winning streak with movies like Step Up, 27 Dresses and The Proposal. That streak began to wane around 2012 with The Guilt Trip, starring Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen. Although it was an adequate film, it signaled a sea change in Fletcher’s career. Her latest faux pas is Hot Pursuit, a far-fetched tale of drug smuggling and female friendship.

Promo poster for Hot Pursuit
Promo poster for Hot Pursuit

Although the movie starts out strongly enough with a montage of Rose Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) growing up in the back of her dad’s police car (he’s one of the most respected men on the force), and even maintains some its cutesy rom-comesque potential when Cooper–as she goes by–chases after a man we assume is a perp but actually turns out to be her date running away from her because she’s “too intense,” it loses all its luster the minute the plot incorporates Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara).

Semi-partners in semi-crime
Semi-partners in semi-crime

As the wife of Felipe Riva (Vincent Laresca), the treasurer turned informant of a cartel run by Vicente Cortez (Joaquín Cosio) out of San Antonio, Daniella is required to be escorted by a female police officer into the Witness Protection Program. This provides a rare opportunity for Cooper to prove herself after “pulling a Cooper” and Tasering the mayor’s son after he calls “shotgun” a.k.a. the front seat. Her tenseness and uptight nature instantly makes the case far dicier, even though she goes to the Riva house accompanied by U.S. Deputy Marshal Jackson (Richard T. Jones).

Upon going upstairs to find the woman she’s supposed to protect, it’s clear her rapport with Daniella is instantly nonexistent–especially after Cooper insists she not bring anything superfluous like shoes. In the midst of their argument a duo of gunmen enter the house and start to shoot, followed by a separate duo, whose appearance confuses everyone involved. Needless to say, Felipe and Marshal Jackson are shot dead, beginning an endless trend of predictability throughout the narrative.

Stuck together
Stuck together

Forced to work together, kind of like Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) in The Heat, the two are constantly butting heads, which is supposed to make for a nonstop comedic tour de force, but instead ends up being a bit banal–though, admittedly, the running joke about Cooper’s ever-changing height description and Daniella’s ever-changing age description is pretty hilarious.

But alas, even the funniest moments aren’t quite enough to redeem Hot Pursuit, which finds Witherspoon taking something of a tumble from her more worthwhile roles, like June Carter in Walk the Line or Evelyn Williams in American Psycho. Then again, this is also the same person who agreed to Legally Blonde 2. On the up side, at least this kind of acting choice is to be expected of Vergara–who will essentially agree to playing any tailor-made Latina character.