I Saw A Film!
I have always appreciated the jolie laide Ellen Barkin, but this clunker, made to look and sound like it’s a New Orleans tale, by having a baby Dennis Quaid speak with a ridiculous faux-Cajun accent, play with plush alligators and blurt “cher” every chance he could, while talking about gumbo did not create the proper illusion.
Barkin is a sexless investigator sent to uncover local cop corruption, which has become so casual it’s institutionalized, and while Quaid’s young Lt character is at least still doing his job, a string of murders light up a road of police involvement that can’t be ignored. There is unfortunately at least one glaring plot hole that is hard to drive the shrimp boat through, involving VHS tapes of incriminating behavior of the cops being kept by the same cops where they can tamper with it. They invent a complicated means of erasing them on the shelf with a powerful magnet rather than just “losing” it. Which is the more common French Connection style of corruption.
Sadly, from the point of view of the role of a strong woman against all odds, she’s rather simply won over. Quaid offers her a bit of charm, and the fact that she’s never had any sex, kind of creates a not so sweet, immature arrangement that causes her to revert to useless. I know the film-makers are going for hot steamy sexuality here, but when the lady investigator is being deliberately corrupted by the cop under investigation and she admits to her lack of sexual experience and performs as if she’s never had any at all, one feels uncomfortable instead of aroused. I understand that this is a popular trope, the charm of the bad guy potentially corrupting a good girl. But we also know that, plotwise, something is afoot that isn’t quite Quaid’s cop’s fault, he’s really been played himself.
Another funny and uncomfortable sequence involves a uniformed cop collecting Barkin while she’s out hilariously jogging like a muppet. Her form is ninety percent vertical, and while her long legs look great in shorts, her gazelle-like gait screams that she’s never gone jogging in her life. She’s trucked over to a party, where Quaid plays guitar (Cajuns you understand, by the way from Acadia in Canada originally, and the corruption of Acadia gave us Cajun) and has his voice dubbed, and manages to still get Barkin to dance with him. It’s hard to imagine anyone being that charmed by the story’s offenses. Especially someone sent to investigate the goons!
After this the story blows wide open, we’re let in on the suspected underside of the police drug running industry, and the story kind of gets makeshift and conventional. We shoot some guns, we hear some things said (more pro-wrestling) and the monsters are reigned in. Yay. We’re also treated to an ad hoc Barkin in a wedding gown in Quaid’s arms. See? It was true love!
It’s running free on prime and has Judge Jim Garrison in it. Garrison was one of the chief promoters of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, and popped up in Oliver Stone’s boneheaded take on that story as well. He’s a real New Orleans person at least.