Hot Pursuit: Not Quite a Female Midnight Run!

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Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon plays the wife of a would-be snitch and the buttoned-down cop sent to escort her to trial. When two different pairs of assassins kill the husband, the two women go on the run.

Despite terrific chemistry between Vergara and Witherspoon (whose production company developed the film), Hot Pursuit only hits on about one gag out of every eight and runs some of its most unfunny jokes into the ground. Cartel money man Felipe Riva (Vincent Laresca) has turned state’s evidence against cartel boss Vicente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio) and he and his wife, Daniella are to be transported to Dallas for trial.

Officer Rose Cooper has spent her career in the evidence room after a misunderstanding regarding someone calling shotgun – taking her off the street and spoiling her father’s legacy (he was a career cop with a spotless record). Now, her boss (John Carroll Lynch) has chosen her to escort Mrs. Riva – but while she’s at the Riva home to pick up Daniella, two different pairs of men (two in luchador masks; two unmasked Hispanics) storm into the house and one (or more) kill Riva.

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Despite being nearly petrified with fear, Cooper gets Daniella out of the house – noticing a tattoo on one of the assassins’ forearm. At a nearby biker bar, she calls for help and Detectives Hauser and Dixon (Matthew Del Negro and Michael Mosley) show up as backup – only one of them has the same tattoo. What follows is Cooper and Daniella running and Hauser and Dixon trying to catch them.

There are running gags that get old fast (Cooper’s overly precise copspeak; Daniella’s roller suitcase; descriptions of the pair on news shows that have Cooper getting shorter and Daniella getting older with each new newscast; the difference between their ‘disguises and their ‘real’ selves) and one-shots that misfire (Daniella and Cooper pretending to be lesbians to persuade a rancher to not call the police) but very few gags that land squarely – one big one revolves around a stolen truck.

Writers David Feeny and John Quaintance have, essentially, churned out a lightweight comedy that isn’t particularly funny and salted it with moments of drama that aren’t particularly dramatic. That it works at all is due to the chemistry between Vergara and Witherspoon – and a very nice, understated performance by Lynch as Captain Emmett.

Anne Fletcher’s direction does nothing to enhance either the film’s drama or its comedy. Her pacing is never quite quick enough for the comedy or deliberate enough for the drama. Clearly, she was aiming for something approaching a mix of Midnight Run and the Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock vehicle, The Heat – but never quite got the slapstick zaniness of the latter or the wit of the former.

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Photos by Sam Emerson/Courtesy of Warner Bros