Walsh (Robert De Niro) is a former cop turned bounty hunter who
has been assigned to locate John Mardukas (Charles Grodin), an accountant
who embezzled 15 millions dollars from Las Vegas mob boss Jimmy
Serrano (Dennis Farina).With Mardukas is tow, Walsh must get him
from New York to Los Angeles without getting killed by the mob,
caught by the FBI or screwed over by over rival bounty hunter Marvin
Dorfler (John Ashton) and must do it all before a deadline.
With his first (and possibly best) venture into mainstream comedy,
Robert De Niro proves his worth as a comedic actor as he uses his
on screen tough guy persona to great effect drawing laugh's and
not chills from the viewer. His character is described by co-star
Charles Grodin as only having two forms of expression; silence and
rage, and while this also may be true in regards to De Niro's acting
style (especially of late), it is a welcome surprise to find that
De Niro is much more animated in his delivery as he does not rest
on the usual ticks and blank stares that shape his acting repetoire.
Yet De Niro's best acting in the film is when he is at most subdued,
coming face to face with ex-wife and daughter for the first time
in 9 years. His reaction to how his daughter has grown is heartbreaking
and in my opinion is some of the best work he has done.
Playing off him is Charles Grodin, a great comedic actor who unfortunately
has not done any work for over a decade. With De Niro playing the
tough guy, Grodin - in typical buddy comedy tradition - plays the
opposite. A neurotic cry baby who suffers from multiple phobia's,
Grodin's Mardukas playing the thorn in De Niro's Walsh's backside
to perfection, both actors taking advantage of a wickedly funny
script while they use their skills for improvisation to great effect
(the "Litmus Configuration" scene where Walsh & Mardukas
scam a bar out of money while posing as FBI agents a perfect example).
Covering similar territory with Beverly Hills Cop,
director Martin Brest has a solid hand behind the camera, while
Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Joe Pantoliono and Dennis Farina all
provide solid support.