Saturday 6 January 2024

Movie Review: Tequila Sunrise (1988)

Genre: Crime Drama  
Director: Robert Towne  
Starring: Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Raul Julia  
Running Time: 115 minutes  

Synopsis: Los Angeles narcotics detective Nick Frescia (Kurt Russell) is pressured by Federal Agent Hal Maguire (J.T. Walsh) to bring evidence against Dale "Mac" McKussic (Mel Gibson), a former drug dealer who now claims to be straight. Nick and Mac are former high school buddies and maintain a strained friendship, but now Nick uses restaurant owner Jo Ann Vallenari (Michelle Pfeiffer) to try and uncover Mac's secrets. A love triangle develops just as notorious drug lord Carlos arrives in town, seeking Mac's help to move a big shipment.

What Works Well: In the first act, director and writer Robert Towne delivers some sharp dialogue and makes excellent use of vivid colours and sharp silhouettes to paint an intriguing context. A stellar cast features stars Gibson, Pfeiffer, and Russell radiating charisma, ably supported by J.T. Walsh.

What Does Not Work As Well: Once the premise is established, the drama bogs down in repetitive and tiresome character dynamics. Dubious romance elements dominate, Jo Ann disintegrates from cool and collected to a shuffling puddle of scattered emotions, and many scenes hammer away at the same themes of mistrust and lies. The third act arrival of an over-animated Raul Julia signals the disintegration of narrative coherence into a mess of bewildering motivations and unlikely actions.

Conclusion: Starts with fizz but rapidly fizzles.

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