People don’t seem to want movies about dirty cops anymore. Like musicals and slapstick comedies, they’ve been consigned to memory, for the most part. Whereas, in the 80s, every third movie featured a flinty-eyed psychopath with a badge and a gun; nowadays, the likes of Michael Douglas in Black Rain, or Bruce Willis in just about anything… appear quaint in their refusal to curb their outmoded ways. We laugh now at Mel Gibson’s twitchy ’Nam vet in Lethal Weapon. But time was; he was the epitome of cool. My guilty secret is that I absolutely love dirty cop movies. When Jason Statham wakes up and starts chugging whisky in Blitz, the only thing that would’ve made me happier is if there was a saxophone on the soundtrack.
The War on Terror isn’t easy for Hollywood. Time was when Team America could pour scorn on Arab terrorists without equivocation, but that time is past. Post-Abu Ghraib, post-Fallujah, post-anything really (post-“Mission Accomplished”), America’s reputation abroad is so shaky these days that even Hollywood (the town that tackled the Cold War with such gusto) isn’t sure exactly what the movie-going public wants to see. In the coming months we’ll watch Bob Redford’s take on the war (Ordinary Palestinians?) with Lions for Lambs; share Reese Witherspoon’s Julia-Roberts-esque anguish in Rendition; and find out if Tommy Lee Jones will pull out all the stops and use Expression B in In the Valley of Elah. First up it’s Jamie Foxx and co. in The Kingdom.