Brian Dennehy mines familiar territory in the fourth installment of the Jack Reedcop-extraordinaire franchise, and as a result, his portrayal of the hard-charging copper is filled with style and believability. Script — penned by Dennehy and Bill Phillips — is equally strong, bogged down only by an occasional soft spot in its early stages. Though the vidpic is allegedly inspired by an actual case, story’s wide-ranging familiarity could just as easily have been a composite of recent events.
Filmed in Vancouver, B.C., by Kushner-Locke Entertainment and Patricia Clifford Prods. in association with NBC. Executive producers, Peter Locke, Donald Kushner, Steve Krantz; co-executive producer, Brian Dennehy; producer, Patricia Clifford; co-producer, Barbara Kelly; director, Dennehy; writers, Dennehy, Bill Phillips; Story centers on the pursuit by Reed (Dennehy) of the killers of a young police officer who was trying to protect a woman from hired assassins.
The killing, which occurs on one of Reed’s rare nights off, takes a particular toll on the detective because the victim is the son of a department veteran who was being shown the investigative ropes by Reed. In his emotion-filled quest to bring in the killers, Reed encounters corrupt politicians, inept bureaucrats and an assortment of street denizens, all of whom make interesting targets for show’s scribes.
Action gets kickstarted when Sara Landry (Suki Kaiser), driving home from the park, is injured in an apparent drive-by shooting.
Reed and his new partner, Mike Quinn (Justin Louis), question Sara and believe the assault to be nothing more than a random act. When Sara is threatened at home later that night, Quinn responds to her call for help and is mercilessly gunned down by one of the crack-fueled bad guys.
The attack disproves the detectives’ notion that the earlier shooting of Sara was gang-related, and advances the theory that there is more to the case than the physical evidence. To keep Sara from harm’s way, Reed and his wife, Arlene (Susan Ruttan), take the frightened woman into their home.
The capture of one of the shooters, Mick (Bernie Coulson), leads Reed on a circuitous search for a motive, a route that the writers use to drop in such timeworn police-story pivots as searching through the main suspect’s curbside Hefty bags, as well as more updated but familiar turns as trying to crack computer codes.
While the writers have contrived a pursuit that is interesting to follow, it’s Dennehy who makes it convincing as he deftly buffaloes and finesses his character’s way through the action.
Charles S. Dutton, as Reed’s boss, goes beyond his comedic leanings as star of sitcom “Roc” to deliver a top-notch portrayal of an experienced police lieutenant. Dutton’s work is effective also because telefilm’s writers have wisely chosen to play up intellect over hysterics.
Coulson’s work as the psychotic speed freak adds some grit to an otherwise silky vidpic, and Michael Talbott’s presence as a co-investigator evokes memories of his “Miami Vice” days.
As a director, Dennehy doesn’t break any new creative ground, but that may be vidpic’s charm. Instead, he shepherds the cast into delivering tried and true performances that, combined with a solid script, help make for an enjoyable offering.