Blu-ray Review: Hot Pursuit (2015)

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Among the many problems with cop comedy Hot Pursuit, a May theatrical release that has received a quick turnaround to Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, is that Reese Witherspoon's by-the-books cop character strongly recalls Sandra Bullock's recent turn in The Heat. Coincidentally, Pursuit director Anne Fletcher guided Bullock to huge box office returns in The Proposal several years back. Perhaps Fletcher didn’t see The Heat, or felt she had a chance at one-upping it. Remember, in addition to deft work by Bullock, The Heat also had Melissa McCarthy. Between the two of them, they knew when to play it straight and let the other actress have the laugh. Though both Pursuit headliners are experienced in comedic settings, Witherspoon and co-star Sophia Vergara don't seem to be engaging in any give-and-take. The result is a shrill competition between two actresses who each seem to consider themselves the primary star of the show.

Hot Pursuit 1 (380x253).jpgOfficer Rose Cooper (Witherspoon) takes her job too seriously, resulting in a severely restricted personal life. She gets sent on a potentially dangerous assignment, which is a big deal considering her track record with the San Antonio PD has been spotty at best. Her dad was a legendary cop and she's forever been attempting to live up to his reputation. Cooper is dispatched with Deputy Marshal Jackson (Richard T. Jones) to guard a drug kingpin-turned-informant Felipe (Vincent Laresca) and his wife, Daniella (Vergara). Predictably, things don't go smoothly and a shoot-out results in not only Felipe's death but also Jackson's. Keep in mind, Jackson is introduced as a personal hero of Cooper's, yet the character is dispensed of in such a callous way (with nary a reaction from Cooper) that you wonder what director Fletcher and company were thinking. This is funny?

Hot Pursuit 3 (380x254).jpgAll that setup is marking time anyway, because the real "comedy" supposedly lies in Vergara's accent—especially when she's speaking very loudly. Daniella flees the crime scene with Cooper and the two take it on the lamb for the rest of the movie. It's revealed early on there are some bad cops involved and Cooper can trust no one, but plot mechanics are perfunctory in David Feeney and John Quaintance’s screenplay. It's no surprise Hot Pursuit got absolutely swallowed up during its early summer, attempted counter-programming release. There are, in fact, a few laughs scattered throughout, including a funny (but far too brief) appearance by Jim Gaffigan. But even at 87 minutes, this thing is an endurance test.

Warner Bros. offers a typically excellent high definition experience with their new Blu-ray, which presents veteran cinematographer Oliver Stapleton's (Robert Altman's Kansas City, Stephen Frears' The Grifters, to name but two) work in eye-pleasing, richly detailed 1080p. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix features all the gunfire and squealing car tires as well as it should. Christophe Beck's score is also appropriately prominent (Beck can rest easy about having scored this dog, millions more moviegoers are hearing his work this summer in Marvel's Ant-Man).

Hot Pursuit 4 (380x253).jpgAs for bonus material, there are three featurettes that strain to demonstrate just how much crazy fun everyone had while making the movie (I'm not implying that they didn't, I just wish more of that supposed fun had translated to the finished product). There's "The Womance," "Say What?," and "Action Like a Lady." We also get an alternate ending (which includes a funny little extra moment with Gaffigan). The Blu-ray package also includes a standard DVD and a Digital HD copy.

It's too bad Reese Witherspoon's follow up to her Oscar-nominated role in 2014's extraordinary Wild was the lame, practically mirthless buddy comedy Hot Pursuit. I can only recommend this one to diehard fans of either her or Sophia Vergara.

Hot Pursuit Images: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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