“ Genre: Crime & Thriller - Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1996 / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: John Langley / Actors: Sam Elliott, Paul Sorvino, Esai Morales, Charlie Fallon ... / DVD released 2002-02-25 at Hollywood DVD Ltd / Features of the DVD: PAL „
I only came to own Dogwatch after needing to increase an Amazon order to above the minimum order level to get free postage and at under £2 this was the perfect amount and I figured that it would be at worst an ok crime thriller and while it is not the greatest film I have ever seen it is not that bad and worth a viewing.
Sam Elliott plays Charlie Fallon who is a police detective who upon finding the killer of his partner standing over the dead body he beats the killer to death and dumps the body in the river. He is then assigned a new partner Murrow played by Esai Morales. The problem is taht the pair discover that his former partner Levinson was no angel and was a corrupt cop and the man that Fallon killed was an undercover police officer.
There are a few plot twists along the way, the one I have given is so obvious at the start it is not a plot spoiler as it is revealed very early on in fact and you can see it coming anyway, it is a slightly predictable plot however there is enough action and tension in the film to keep it interesting.
The acting is competent rather than impressive and none of the cast were very recognisable with the exception of Paul Sorvino who plays the police chief in the film.
Overall this is nothing more than a competent enough crime thriller which having now seen it onmce will probably gather dust for a while with my other DVD's but may get another airing in the future before going to a charity shop or car boot sale.
Detective Charlie Falon is so angry when he finds the dead body of his partner, Levinson, and the supposed perpetrator standing over him, that he beats the perpetrator to death. Dumping the body in the river, he is at least partially appeased knowing that he killed the a cop killer. He is assigned a new partner, Murrow, and told to keep away from the Levinson/cop killer cases. It soon becomes clear that Levinson was not as innocent as Falon thought he was - Levinson was a drug dealer and the 'cop killer' was an undercover detective who was following Levinson and probably wasn't responsible for Levinson's death at all. The corruption that Levinson had become involved in is a lot deeper than Falon had realised - and soon he is up to his neck in the investigation. Can he get to the bottom of the corruption? Or is he going to end up dead too?
Charlie Falon is played by Sam Elliot, a secondary actor I recognised, but couldn't place. I didn't have much hope for his character to begin with - Falon is an alcoholic detective who plays it straight and talks in an incredibly monotonous and deep voice. It just didn't seem as though he could possibly be interesting. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the way his character developed as the film progressed - his grief at his partner's death and then shock at finding out that his partner wasn't all he thought weighs heavily on him and Sam Elliot deals with it all very competently. It isn't an Oscar-winning performance, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a good one and makes this film come across as being substantially better than the story allows.
His new partner, Murrow, is played by Esai Morales, an actor I have never heard of, nor do I recognise him. He adds some much needed eye-candy to the role and is the more sensible detective out of the two. The role isn't particularly exciting, but Morales does what he has to and is more than competent in the role. The only actor from the film that I recognised was Paul Sorvino, who played a Capulet in Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet and is the father of Mira Sorvino. As the police chief, he doesn't have all that much screen time, but he is fabulous when he does appear. He has a quirky way of dealing with his men and is often aggressively to the point, but he does it in a humorous way that makes him very entertaining to watch. The film wouldn't have been ruined without him, but he does add a touch of class.
The story is an average one that has been done time and time again and probably will be again. There is very little in the film that surprises, especially once the initial twist of Falon's partner being a drug deal is confirmed very early on in the film. There are a couple of other twists in the story, but they are obvious ones that can be seen coming. On a more positive note, there isn't much that is seriously wrong with the story - it just isn't very original, and could certainly have been told in a more exciting way. The ending, when it finally comes, is good though - ideal for late night watching when you just want action without having to think too much about it.
Director John Langley has done a reasonable job with the film - at least he ensured that the right actors were chosen for the job and seemed to get the best out of them. Unfortunately, at times, it feels as though it was made in a rush, which is probably true - I'm sure this would have been a straight to DVD movie. It clearly wasn't made on a big budget - at times the lip synching appears to be off by a fraction. It took me a while to realise what was wrong, because it is very subtle, but in this day and age, that really shouldn't be an issue. The screenplay is average, there's nothing special about it, but it doesn't come across as being wooden either.
There is a classification of 18 on this film and that is very much deserved. There is a massive amount of violence, with Falon in particular being very free and easy with his fists. There is also a scene where a mother and son are blown to pieces by a shotgun in front of a small boy. The swearing is virtually non-stop, there is obvious drug use (Falon's stripper girlfriend dies of an overdose with the needle still in her arm) and Falon spends a great deal of his time drinking himself silly in a strip club where women are virtually stark naked the whole time and grinding against poles. I can't comment on quite how realistic of police behaviour this is, but it is certainly not something you will want impressionable young children to watch.
There is just one extra with the DVD that I have - a theatrical trailer.
This isn't a terrible way to pass an hour and a half - it is exactly the sort of film that is so often on TV late at night. The actors manage to take the film a step up from being completely forgettable - I don't think I'll remember much about the story in a few months' time, but I'll probably remember Sam Elliot and Paul Sorvino. I wouldn't recommend anyone went out of their way to buy the DVD, but if you happen to come across it, or it is shown on TV, there are much worse films you could choose. Just be warned about the levels of violence - it really isn't for the faint-hearted. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available for £2.30 from play.com.
Running time: 95 minutes