Armed with exceptional credentials including Charles Bronson reprising his role as a Milwaukee police inspector with two cop sons, “Family of Cops II” turns out as taut as Jello. Director David Greene’s pacing offers little suspense out of Joel Blasberg’s by-the-numbers script (Blasberg also wrote last November’s weak intro vidpic). Not a chance in Siberia that the “Family of Cops” franchise can hurt top pop cops like “Homicide” or “NYPD Blue” — or go into a series.
Bronson, and Joe Penny (stepping in for Daniel Baldwin) and Sebastian Spence as his sons, can turn in their badges with this ponderous entry. It involves the sneaky Russian mafia smugly playing at murder, drug smuggling and other anti-social activities with 1940s undercover Nazi-type enthusiasts.
Widowered Inspector Paul Fein (Bronson), sons Ben (Penny) and Eddie (Spence), daughter Kate (Barbara Williams), younger, flaky daughter Jackie (Angela Featherstone), and Paul’s sister Shelly (Diane Ladd) make up the family. Flighty Jackie, unable to find a job, decides she, too, will be a cop; it gives the Police Academy dunce status.
A Catholic priest in Paul’s former neighborhood is shot up in the confessional, and a striking, sad-faced parishioner, Mrs. Ivanov (Mimi Kuyzk), tells Paul the little she knows. The cops face Russian hoods Boris (Andrew Jackson) and Ilya (Matt Birman), who’re connected with the murder, and probably did in a Russian youth found hanging upside-down in the park.
The Russian mafia’s woven through the fabric. Maybe some anti-Semitism. Can Boris be on an anti-Jewish kick? Hardly: He’s Jewish himself. Why was the priest murdered, and who’s Mr. Russki Mafia Bigshot? It’s part of the non-absorbing puzzle.
Fights looked staged, humor’s labored, characters are ill-defined. Anonymous Russians make brief phone calls to the Feins, and they’re unexplained; someone comes firing rounds of ammunition at Ben’s house, but who is it?
Acting’s indifferent, though David Hemblen as parishioner Ivanov’s suave husband, impressive Kim Weeks as Ben’s police partner sweet on Paul, and Andrew Jackson as menacing Boris pour much-needed octane into the vidpic. Why the priest was murdered does make sense, but it’s a laborious trip to find out.
Abrupt transitions are frequent and disconcerting, and Ron Orieux’s camerawork is routine. Seamus Flannery’s production design is good.