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"BLUE STREAK"
(1999) (Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy/Adventure: An ex-con poses as an L.A.P.D. detective while trying to retrieve a valuable diamond he earlier stashed in a building that went on to become the police precinct.
PLOT:
Miles Logan (MARTIN LAWRENCE) is a high-tech jewel thief who's after a multimillion dollar diamond. Although he successfully extracts it, his turncoat partner, Deacon (PETER GREENE), kills another member of their team. That sends their driver, Tulley (DAVE CHAPPELLE), speeding away and results in Logan's arrest, but not before he stashes the diamond in a building that's under construction.

Two years later, Logan's released from jail and discovers to his horror that his diamond is now located in the recently completed L.A.P.D. precinct building. Desperate to retrieve it, and with the aid of a master forger, Uncle Lou (RICHARD C. SARAFIAN), Logan poses as a detective and gains access to the building.

Yet in his attempt to find the diamond, Logan inadvertently catches an escaped suspect, drawing the attention of Captain Rizzo (GRAHAM BECKEL). Impressed by Logan's style and faked credentials, Rizzo partners him with Carlson (LUKE WILSON), a green around the edges, rookie detective. After similarly arresting Tulley -- who threatens to blow Logan's cover -- the ex-con soon finds himself promoted to head detective, where he continues to impress other cops such as seasoned pro, Hardcastle (WILLIAM FORSYTHE).

As Logan's intimate knowledge of everything criminal turns him into a proficient detective who's always two steps ahead of the criminals, his quest to retrieve the diamond soon gets him tangled up in other cases and with the FBI.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
It's been said that fact is stranger than fiction and the syndicated "News of the Weird" stories are proof positive of that. For those who think that those stories are made up -- such as a man fooling the police department while posing as a fellow cop and even arresting several suspects -- many are in fact true. For instance, just this past week in Washington, D.C., police reported having found such a man in their midst.

As such, the similar plot of Columbia Pictures' release of "Blue Streak" now doesn't sound so outlandish. Of course that doesn't mean this mistaken identity-based comedy is realistically portrayed -- it's far from it -- and one can only hope that the D.C. police department isn't filled with comic buffoons as portrayed here. Then again, there's that pesky saying about fact and fiction...

That said, the entire weight of this production sits squarely on lead actor Martin Lawrence's shoulders and a great deal of one's enjoyment of the picture will ride on one's liking and/or tolerance of his shtick. If you don't mind his constant and over-the-top mugging and dancing and prancing around like he's got ants in his pants, you may just find yourself somewhat tickled by the proceedings.

After all, there are a few laugh out loud moments and the film has an overall, screwball like aura about it. To its detriment, the film is more than a little reminiscent of Eddie Murphy's similar turn in "48 Hours" (with a con posing as a cop teamed with a no-nonsense white cop, etc...). Thankfully, the film doesn't pander too much to the white cop/black cop element where the two constantly bicker over their differences.

However, it does contain a supporting cast of characters who are too stupid for their or the film's own good, no matter how silly the film intends to be. Of course, that allows Lawrence's character to get away with all sorts of shenanigans that wouldn't cut it under normal circumstances.

Even so, and while one can accept dumb and dumber characters in films like, well, "Dumb & Dumber," having such gullible police here simply shows that the screenwriters -- Michael Berry & John Blumenthal ("Short Time") and Steve Carpenter (some low budget horror films) -- took the easy way out of creating complications for their fake cop.

A scene where Lawrence confronts an armed suspect -- actually his former partner -- is initially funny, but then goes on way too long, progressively straining credibility as it goes. Of course it doesn't help that director Les Mayfield ("Flubber," "Encino Man") seems more intent on simply letting Lawrence loose rather than telling a tight or creatively crafted story.

As the lead character, Lawrence ("Life," "Nothing to Lose") is guilty of more than his fair share of mugging, but otherwise is likeable enough to endear him to the audience (particularly since the PG-13 rating quells the more extreme profanity). The scene stealer award, however, goes to Dave Chappelle ("Half-Baked," "Con Air") as Logan's fidgety and mostly reluctant partner. Given most of the best lines and moments, Chappelle is entertaining to watch.

Meanwhile, neither Luke Wilson ("Rushmore," "Home Fries") as the rookie cop nor Peter Greene ("Permanent Midnight," "The Rich Man's Wife") as the nefarious ex-partner make much of an impression, although their shallowly written characters certainly don't help their cause. The rest of the performers inhabiting the other cops, FBI agents and criminals similarly leave little in the way of an impression and easily could have been interchanged with no appreciable effect.

Unless you're a diehard Lawrence, you'll probably tire of the film's loose and unbelievable approaching at telling its story. While it does offer a few funny moments, for the most part it's otherwise instantly forgettable. Thus, we give "Blue Streak" just a 3 out of 10.




Reviewed September 8, 1999 / Posted September 17, 1999


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