If there's one thing about the buddy cop genre, it doesn't seem to not get made, and formula will dictate the stark differences in personality between the two cops, if not then there's always the differences in skin colour to fall back on. We all know the Lethal Weapon combination of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover and the havoc they wrecked at the box office in terms of receipts, and I'm a little surprised to see Kevin Smith's directorial effort here which piled on the stereotypes together with his signature character verbal barrage and fanboy homage to the action genre.
Bruce Willis stars as yet another cop in his film career, NYPD veteran Jimmy Monroe, who has perfected the good cop bad cop routine with his buddy of 9 years, Paul Hodges, played by Tracy Morgan with a mouth so loose you're quite unsure what will get spouted out next. The film opens with nary an introduction to the characters, and dives straight into action with an interrogation that Smith uses to play “Guess the action movie”, which of course set the tone that Paul is the film fan and unorthodox cop, while Jimmy the more serious, no nonsense counterpart. Expectations set.
Rob and Mark Cullen's story couldn't be more bland, but at least it didn't set out to be more than it can handle. Our dynamic duo starts off with a stakeout gone wrong which resulted in the demise of a protected informant, and despite the washout of a chase, take pleasure in busting the chops of fellow cops who are on a separate, related stakeout of a Mexican gang. Before you know it, our suspended cops soon find themselves hot on the heels and getting ahead of themselves when they have to work outside the system to fulfill their personal objectives. Who says personal and business don't mix?
And it is precisely this that brings on the laughs as things get really blown out of proportion. For Jimmy, he's after his own rare and valuable baseball card, which he had decided to finally sell off in order to get cash to fund his daughter's expensive wedding. He gets unceremoniously robbed, and the card is now in the hands of a memorabilia-obsessed gangster chief. And in Paul's case, it's the constant questioning of his wife's infidelity, until he himself gets tempted with a mob moll (Ana de la Reguera) when they had to dance with the devil and cut deals with the dark side.
Expect plenty of F-bombs and gun fights which our heroes are god-like with near invulnerability, in fueling the film's pace without breaking a sweat. Kevin Smith is in unchartered territory, but for his foray into a formulaic genre, he does prove that he has that flair in him to make it a cut above the norm, thanks also in part to the chemistry shared between Willis (who has a tendency to sleepwalk in such roles now) and Morgan (the eager beaver to go one up against peer roles such as those played by Chris Tucker). Stay until the end of the credits for a surprise scene.