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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 5%
Just Average50%
Pretty Crappy: 37.5%
Sucks: 7.5%

4 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Mulholland Falls
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by Slyder

"Misses the mark"
3 stars

The most disappointing thing about Mulholland Falls is that it could’ve worked, unfortunately, thanks to several predictable clichés by the second half and a cheap ambiguous ending prevented it from reaching the greatness that it was unquestionably striving for.

The setting is the 1950’s Los Angeles; Max Hoover (Nick Nolte) is a tough motherfucker detective who heads the “hat squad,” comprising of three equally tough detectives Ellery Coolidge (Chazz Palminteri), Eddie Hall (Michael Madsen) and Arthur Relyea (Chris Penn), all riding in a black Buick Convertible and kicking the shit out of gangsters trying to flex their muscle (Kind of a forerunner of The Shield’s premise of Vic Mackey and his 3 “Strike Team” partners). Then one day Max Hoover’s world turns upside down when a beautiful hooker Allison Pond (Jennifer Connelly) is found dead in a construction site, with every bone broken. Then, Max receives an 8mm film which has Allison having sex with Atomic Energy Commission leader General Thomas Timms (John Malkovich), which is disturbing since Max just had a 6 month affair with her. While trying to keep the later a secret from his wife Katherine (Melanie Griffith), Max tries to uncover the connection between Allison, the piece of radioactive glass dented in her foot, Timms and his number 1 thug, Col. Fitzgerald (Treat Williams) before it all comes crashing down on him.

This film had the makings of a classic noir story. Beautiful cinematography by the legendary Haskell Wexler, great cast, sets, costumes, and Tamahori’s direction; so what went wrong? The screenplay. It’s obvious from the beginning that this film was trying to be homage to the long lost noir days of The Big Sleep, Key Largo, and the latter day noir of Chinatown, but somewhere along the way, it gets too much into the homage level that it squanders the many interesting plot points it was trying to bring out. By the film’s second half, the whole plot begins to unravel: The whole angle of the radioactive experiments on human beings is too blurry to make any sense and possible plot components which were hinted in the beginning are never explored and if they are, they end up being mildly superficial.

Several characters are wasted, notably Hoover’s partners Eddie and Arthur whom are given nothing to do except ride around with Max and Ellery in their Buick. Hoover’s wife Katherine also qualifies as mere window dressing plus Melanie Griffith’s bland performance doesn’t help a damn either. To a lesser extent, the inclusion of FBI Agent McAfferty (Daniel Baldwin) is just there to piss Max off and would later get a lesson of never fucking with Max and his family in a parking lot scene which in my view is quite a highlight (hey, who doesn’t want to kick Baldwin ass these days?). And then the scenes leading and up to the climatic point end up being a bit predictable and the ambiguous ending ends up cheating the audience due to its lack of originality and its action of pulling the rug from under the audience’s intelligence.

Nick Nolte kicks ass as usual and his rugged Max has enough screen presence and complexities to keep the audience glued in. Chazz Palminteri is pretty much the other standout as Max’s loyal partner as he tries to put Max’s feet on the ground. Other than that, the rest of the cast is pretty much from average down. Oh, and Jennifer Connelly is hot, she always has been, but it just isn’t enough to save this film.

By the film’s end, I was disappointed, not because it was a bad movie; far from it, but because the movie had potential but all these glitches in the half-assed script hampered what could have been a noir classic, and this was 1 year before LA Confidential; as it is right now, it falls into the noble failure category. Gee, ¾ of the movie is perfect, but the final quarter was the most important one and no matter how good your production values are or how talented your cast or your director is, if you don’t have a good screenplay, it’s all for not. Oh what could’ve been? 3-5

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=571&reviewer=235
originally posted: 05/09/05 15:30:10
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User Comments

2/01/12 Monday Morning 90% style, 10% substance. 3 stars
7/11/10 Stopher Deepest line. "Are you OK, Max?" ad nauseum 2 stars
12/19/09 Gene Ross Nolte has never been an outstanding actor but in this he's tolerable.Strong perfomances fro 3 stars
8/11/09 Tiffany I was confused from beging to end & i watched twice. 1 stars
6/01/06 Jack Sommersby A good, stylish murder mystrey with a very good cast. 4 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Well made just not terribly interesting 3 stars
5/16/05 Chris Stephens Likes it all the way until the ending bombed 3 stars
6/05/04 John this concept with this cast should have been great - a wasted opportunity 1 stars
1/14/04 Betty White Watchable, but overlong "Chinatown" rip-off. 3 stars
12/07/03 John Bale Nolte grumbles his way through with a fine cast, but mostly predicable Untouchables stuff. 3 stars
12/06/03 R.W. Welch Borderline campy at times but engrossing plot line. 3 stars
2/06/03 Allison Lafferty Geez - what's with this wave of girls named Allison dying in airplanes? bordrline avg/p.bad 3 stars
8/22/01 Jed I found it to be quite engrossing. Give it a shot and judge for yourself. 4 stars
11/30/98 Mr.Pink Tamahori doesn't fulfill his promise with this big dissapointment. 2 stars
8/28/98 Johny I fell asleep in the theater. Boring. 1 stars
8/25/98 Pete Considering the cast I was very let down. Avoid this flick. 2 stars
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  26-Apr-1995 (R)
  DVD: 02-Nov-2004



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