Mediocre: Stakeout

Stakeout (1987)
Directed by John Badham
Written by Jim Kouf
Produced by Jim Kouf, Cathleen Summers, Gregg Champion, Dana Satler Hankins, John Badham
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Madeleine Stowe, Emilio Estevez, Aidan Quinn, Ian Tracey, Dan Lauria, Forest Whitaker
Upon a violent convict's crafty prison break, a Seattle police precinct collaborating with the FBI assigns one detective dyad (Dreyfuss, Estevez) to surveil the escapee's lovely girlfriend (Stowe) nightlong, in alternation with another (Lauria, Whitaker) monitoring her diurnally until Dreyfuss's senior lieutenant falls for her early in the second act, at which point the picture's appeal and plausibility plummet, only surfacing when we aren't subjected to an endeavor to romanticize an utterly unsexy lead. His comic timing and delivery are as aptly snappy as his fans would expect, but Dreyfuss alone among his co-stars is hopelessly miscast as a hardened cop, and revolting whenever ogling or courting Stowe, earthily radiant in one of her few roles as a Latina. She's warmly captivating, but they spark nary a scintilla of chemistry; who could with a man resonant of any complacent uncle attending a mitzvah? Were Estevez paired with an imposing and attractive leading man, they still couldn't surmount the silly excesses of a script that cancels its plot's every twist with a hole, divaricating slavishly from creative scenarios to prosaic farce. Badham's knack for action's especially observable during shootouts and chases -- especially when Washington state troopers pursue Quinn's cracked con -- but even in his best pictures, that craftsmanship clashes uncomfortably with his tolerance for senselessness. Would that a script doctor had refined Kouf's promising yet deeply flawed screenplay and Dreyfuss's part were assigned to a fit lead...Bridges? Eastwood? Scheider? Reynolds?!

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