CROWN VIC (2019)
Thomas Jane, Luke Kleintank, Bridget Moynahan, David Krumholtz, Josh Hopkins, Scottie Thompson, Devon Werkheiser, Emma Ishta, Alex Morf
Directed by Joel Souza
There’s nothing like a good LAPD action-thriller to entertain you for a couple of hours. “Training Day,” “Colors’” “L.A. Confidential,” and “Heat” come to mind, and of course hearing Jack Webb deliver the iconic lines "This is the city--Los Angeles, California." "I carry a badge." "My name's Friday," on the classic television show “Dragnet” was enough to get you excited. Writer-director Joel Souza follows a safe formula for his entry into the genre and despite the lack of innovation, “Crown Vic” has its moments as it moves along like an extended episode of “Cops.”
Thomas Jane plays LAPD seasoned veteran Ray Mandel, who’s assigned new rookie Nick Holland (Luke Kleintank) for a night of training on his first day on the job. Ray has been patrolling the streets of L.A. for over twenty years and as you can guess his ethical code has declined over the years. Yeah, he’s bitter, twice divorced, and blunt. On the flipside, Nick is newly married with a baby on the way and the son of a former cop. In a play straight out of the cliché handbook, the two men clash as the strait-laced Nick spouts off rules and regulations while Ray dispenses plenty of street logic.
The film opens in an homage to “Heat” as a pair of bank robbers engage in a violent shootout with police. The two get away in their bullet hole-riddled vehicle which they remain in for a majority of the film that takes place over the course of one night.
From here the film turns into an episode of “Cops” as Ray and Nick respond to one call after another complete with an on-screen time stamp. There’s the drunk rich girl passed out in her BMW, the methhead, a foot chase after a guy throws a brick at the police cruiser, and a prowler call. It all feels very episodic, but these are just appetizers meant to show us an average night on patrol for these LAPD officers.
The real meat and potatoes of Souza’s film involves what happens behind the scenes when Ray and Nick aren’t responding to a call. Bridget Moynahan plays the strung-out widow of Ray’s deceased partner whose daughter has gone missing. This leads to a subplot involving missing children which should have been the basis for the film and then there’s the over the top performance by Josh Hopkins a rage-filled undercover detective suffering from PTSD who’s kept in check by his senseless partner Stroke (David Krumholtz) sporting a moustache straight out of “Serpico.” There are some melodramatic moments here but still compelling leading to real tension.
“Crown Vic” is a good film that unfortunately doesn’t stand out from the crop. The performances by Thomas Jane and Luke Kleintank are solid and there are a few moments of real inspiration but if Souza would have left out all the routine calls and just concentrated on the rest of the narrative it could have been quite compelling.
(2 ½ stars)
Now showing in select theaters and available on streaming sites 11/15/19.