Alex Kearney (Edwards) is about to have his life turned upside-down.
He's a cop in a ritzy Philadelphia precinct. Although he's always busting perps, he has a soft side that communicates itself through a love of crossword puzzles and a fanatical devotion to the music of The Beach Boys. He also has a pretty girlfriend named Lori Mitchell (Miller).
He's by the book and as white as a sheet with fear. Unfortunately, he also has the bad luck of tangling with a well-to-do businessman named Jerome Sweet (Clennon). After his altercation with Sweet, Kearney reports to his superiors about the problem.
When they don't believe him, Kearney is taken away from the relative sanctuary of his precinct and, as punishment, is plunged into the urban warzone that is downtown Philadelphia. His new partner is a hard-headed ultraviolent man named Dennis Curren (Whitaker). Throughout the movie, it's clear that Kearney is too green to shake things down in this place...
...Until his life starts falling apart. His best friend gets killed, Lori walks out on him because she's afraid he'll die and Dennis is assaulted in a drive-by. Kearney investigates his friend's death and ends up stumbling into a conspiracy that leads him back to the beginning of his journey to reality.
Before anything, I know that "Downtown" was released in 1990, but that's the key word...released. The copyright date tells a different story. It's copyright-dated 1989, so guess what? It's another 80s favorite.
The movie is basically "Lethal Weapon" on the East Coast but there's more of a comedic element to it. I would chalk that up to the people behind the camera. The director was Richard Benjamin, who wasn't exactly known for hard-hitting action in the 80s. For example, he was behind the camera for "The Money Pit". That movie did have a lot of crashes and crunches, but it was all done for comedic effect. This was the first time Benjamin worked with squibs and guns. He took to it like a fish to water, and it's a shame he hasn't done more action movies.
The screenwriter was Nat Mauldin, who wrote many episodes of "Night Court". This gave him great experience in telling tales that combine comedy and drama. I suppose one could say that his script was basically a "Night Court" episode with F-bombs and graphic violence. It was a great show, though, so the denigration doesn't really hold.
The performances are about what you would expect for a movie of this genre. Whitaker and Edwards have the great white-cop/black-cop buddy chemistry that existed in dozens of films from the 80s through the early 90s. Miller is basically wallpaper, but it's a lovely color that she is. Evans is a great example of the hard-headed black head of the precinct. Pantoliano is good as the "Mr. Joshua" of the movie. Clennon is a good villain, but somewhat of a cipher. He never really defines himself as a memorable villain.
I enjoyed this movie a lot when I was younger, but on review, it just doesn't hold up like it should. Don't get me wrong, it was a good movie (with a kick-butt novelty death scene, to boot). I just wish I could give it the praise I would've had I reviewed this movie a few years earlier.
The movie is a good waste of time, but nothing to write home about, really.
Adulthood's a rhymes-with-witch.
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