Tag Archive: buddy cop shows


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you ever longed for the easygoing action movies from the 1970s like Smokey and the Bandit and Every Which Way But Loose, you may want to check out the new Netflix movie Spenser Confidential Like those films it has the big screen leading actor in Mark Wahlberg (The Italian Job, Shooter, Ted), playing the familiar Robert P. Parker character Spenser, the amiable co-star with Winston Duke (Black Panther, Us) as partner Hawk, the mouthy lead actress in Iliza Shlesinger (Instant Family, Forever 31) as Spenser’s ex Cissy, the snarky elder voice in Alan Arkin (Argo, Gattaca, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Sesame Street) as Spenser and Hawk’s mentor, and even the cute animal friend presence via a friendly hound dog (that’s Pearl).  And a cool ride (here, a primo 1984 Buick Riviera).

Just like with the big screen movie The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (reviewed here at borg), viewers should forget about what they’ve read in the novels or experienced in the 1980s TV series starring Robert Urich and Avery Brooks.  This is a trademark Mark Wahlberg movie, and he’s in familiar territory–Boston–and Wahlberg’s own real-life stint in jail brings a certain authenticity to his performance as a tough guy with a big mouth who can hold is own against much bigger thugs, emerging from the slammer.  Wahlberg’s character has bits of the roles he’s taken on in The Departed (cop), Shooter (strategist), The Italian Job (planner), The Perfect Storm (driven), 2 Guns (drugs), The Other Guys (buddy cop), even Ted (Bostonian), and the film comes from director Peter Berg, who audiences have seen team up with Wahlberg before in Mile 22, Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon, and Lone Survivor.

Wahlberg’s ex-cop is a good guy who must act when he sees someone in trouble, which in turn gets him into trouble.  The story in Spenser Confidential is neither complex not action-packed.  But Arkin and Shlesinger add some humor to what is very much an extended episode of early 1980s prime time television.  It has the same quality that makes us keeping coming back for more in the reboot Magnum PI series and the new Stumptown series–actors we like, characters we like, and an easy mystery to solve.

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Bacon and Bridges in RIPD

Somehow the adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics series, R.I.P.D., came and went last year with little fanfare and plenty of negative reviews.  Did the critics simply not understand the film?  Most seemed lazy and dismissed it as a Men in Black knockoff.  Admittedly it’s a good film, not a great film, yet it has so much going for it that you may want to check it out now that it’s out on Blu-ray and DVD.

R.I.P.D. stands for the Rest in Peace Department.  Like the Men in Black, this worldwide squad tries to keep the peace between our world and their world.  That hidden world has simple rules: when you die you go to heaven or hell, but sometimes the dead get caught in between.  It’s up to R.I.P.D. to track down those in-between souls.  It sounds serious but it’s mainly all comic book fun and over-the-top action movie antics.

Miller and Hong in RIPD

R.I.P.D. has the feel in parts of several classic movies about ghosts and “hidden worlds behind our world,” like Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Ghost Rider, and yes, Men in Black.  But it’s not as great as any of these. It also has a dramatic thread from movies like The Crow, Always, and City of Angels.  But it’s not a drama and only touches on the seriousness of what is at stake for the characters in the story.  Yet it’s worth watching for some standout components that make for a fun rental.

If you ever wanted to see a live-action Yosemite Sam, you can see what that would be like with Jeff Bridges’ performance as Roy Pulsiphur, an undead ex-U.S. Marshall and Civil War soldier.  Bridges completely immerses himself in this Old West coot and the result is another classic and unique Bridges performance. (How the heck does he manage to drive his car side-saddle?).  There’s definitely some Sam Elliott inspiration here.  Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, a cop who is killed on duty as a Boston police officer.  It may be Reynolds’ best film performance as he, too, is believable as an undead cop in this strange otherworld.  Bridges and Reynolds have some strange chemistry, which amounts for some good buddy cop moments.

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Almost Human partners

This year’s TV series Almost Human had the potential to be a big hit, with movie star Karl Urban as one of the two lead actors, and a classic sci-fi plot that looked like it would mix RoboCop, Alien Nation, Blade Runner, and Total Recall.  After a fun but uncertain pilot episode, it has managed to deliver each week the kind of science fiction stories that are stuff of classic TV.  Almost Human isn’t just sci-fi, it’s a full-blown police procedural drama, and a good old-fashioned buddy cop show to boot.

The series centers on megastar-film actor Karl Urban’s future cop, Detective John Kennex.  Kennex is a grumpy guy with baggage, a past encounter gone bad resulted in the death of his partner and the need for a cybernetic leg.  Early detractors of the series likened his Kennex too much to his similarly gruff Doctor McCoy from the new Star Trek movies.  It’s a fair comparison.  But we don’t care.  They are both great characterizations and the miserable, tough guy routine is separable and fun to watch, especially Kennex’s banter with co-star Michael Ealy as almost human robot cop Dorian, an android of a decommissioned type who has become Kennex’s partner.  In fact, the buddy cop routine will make you think of your favorite buddy cop shows, in the league of Alien Nation, Adam-12, Life on Mars, Hot Fuzz, Dragnet, Life, White Collar, and Starsky and Hutch.

Almost Human buddy cops

This week’s episode was emblematic of why the series is destined to continue as long as the network will let it.  The writers basically took the plot from a classic episode of Law and Order about pacemakers being refurbished and placed in new people.  Here, that concept is blended with a current political item: what happens if there is no Affordable Care Act in the future, and a current element of technology some people use every day: the prepaid cell phone.  So how did the writers put it all together?

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