It’s Definitely Hot Something

Cartoons offer better logic than Hot Pursuit. Maybe Hot Pursuit is meant to be a cartoon. Either way, it’s not entertaining – more like annoying in practice.

There is a need for a female buddy action comedy. It would be a welcome reprieve. This is not the one. Mixed up in this slew of gunfights and bus chases is Reese Witherspoon, best set aside for plucky, derivative romantic comedies. Here she’s a not-so-believable, implausibly by-the-books cop transporting a spoiled widow of a drug kingpin – Sofia Vergara, hardly stretching herself from her pompous, materialistic Modern Family role. Obviously, these incompatible people clash.

Cue an endless stream of arguments, screaming, and double crosses. There are times where the two bond, then they don’t, then they won’t; it’s tiring. If Hot Pursuit is supposed to juxtapose this traditionally male dominated genre, then soaking the movie with emotional swings, blabber about shoes, and sexually teasing lesbianism with the stars is probably is not the way to do it. But, two male writers penned this one – so the women are moody, talk about clothing, and share a lip lock. Surprise.

Witherspoon and Vergara are less characters than they are stereotypes, Vegara with her screeching Colombian flair and Witherspoon concocting a broken, polite Southern accent for the entirety. Spending 87 minutes with these two as they expand on feminine hygiene issues and continually handcuff each other is not a comedic laugh riot. At the helm is director Anne Fletcher who turned Barbara Streisand insufferable in Guilt Trip and languished over romantic contrivance in The Proposal. Hot Pursuit does not fall particularly far from either as it descends ever downward.

The film has no vibrancy, and the immediate energy it intends to produce from Witherspoon’s goofy character is non-existent. Hot Pursuit is DOA. Vegara is of no help either. Blame typecasting for that. Adventures peak with a bus chase, a cleanly choreographed bit of action cinema through – what else? – a construction zone. All of the elderly on the out of control tour bus seem to be enjoying their part. Good for them. Everything left in Hot Pursuit is either a gun stand-off, disagreement, or plodding, predictable cliché. What acts as a final scene contradicts what comes before, purely for the sake of a happy ending. Can’t let the audience go home disappointed, but by then it’s too late anyway.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

In action @ 1:15:46

If Hot Pursuit can have any claim to success, it’s being shot on film when most movies of this nature lean digital. A thin veneer of grain is nearly imperceptible. Warner’s encode does appear to struggle in spots. Mid-range moments tend to create a haze of compression, if to minimal detriment. The loss of fidelity seems minor and filtering is unseen. One night sequence is questionable with smooth faces, although green screen effects are a likely culprit.

Mostly, Hot Pursuit carries excellent facial definition. Up close, both actresses are well defined. Detail on clothes are resolved. Exteriors perform equally well.

Imagery is best described as perky, well lit with hefty contrast. Colors are lean with a dash of saturation included to bolster primaries. Witherspoon wears a red dress for the second half which shows off some color. Flesh tones are pleasingly natural.

When night falls, black levels become imperative. They work. Density is firm and shadow details are preserved. At their peak output in the back of a truck (the same scene where skin appears smoothed), the image loses nothing in terms of depth.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Gunfire is nicely placed in a routine 5.1 mix, scattering across the rears in an early shoot out. A bit of low-end assistance adds some depth. Other singular shots later carry more prominence, hitting the LFE forcefully to accentuate their use. The bus sequence features some engine tracking plus a few thuds.

The main focus here is music which has tremendous spread across the soundfield. If the goal was to sell soundtracks, then it would be difficult to make the musical selections any stronger. At a party deep into the third act, ambiance sprouts up to sell the space. It works.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Extras are pitifully thin and named even worse. Please never let “Womance” become a thing, especially based on this three minute marketing fest of a featurette. Say What? is a line flub gag reel, most of it new outside of the end credits which also produce a string of on-set gags. Action Like a Lady spends two minutes on stunts. An alternate ending barely makes sense.

Extras ★★☆☆☆ 

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.