Let’s get this out of the way: Hot Pursuit is not a great movie. It’s not even a very good movie. In fact, it might be kind of a terrible movie. That said, it’s a film not without merit.
It’s hard to make a great movie from derivative beginnings, and the odd-couple female-buddy crime comedy has “The Heat Copycat” written all over it. This is a shame because the mismatched duo in question is Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara, an Academy Award winner and a television comedy juggernaut, respectively. They deserve better than a cheap imitation.
In Hot Pursuit, both Witherspoon and Vergara play to type. Witherspoon is Cooper, a by-the-book police officer straight out of the Reese Witherspoon Playbook of Type-A Characters, chained to a desk and desperate to get back out into the field. Vergara is Daniella Riva, the materialistic wife of a drug boss who uses her sexuality like Cooper uses her Taser gun. Cooper is assigned to help transport Riva to Dallas, where she will be a key witness in the trial against a drug kingpin, but when a series of masked baddies descend and murder Cooper’s partner and Riva’s husband, the women are forced to go on the lam.
What follows is a series of car chases, clumsy escapes, and multiple costume changes. And, of course, the cop and the femme fatale eventually become besties. This would all work if the movie respected the intelligence of its characters (and the intelligence of its audience). Instead, these women aren’t nearly as smart as they should be, and with its sloppy plotting and never-ending parade of clichés, it’s clear this movie does not believe its viewers are all that bright either. There are honest moments, laugh-out-loud jokes, and genuinely thrilling bits of action peppered throughout the film. It’s unfortunate that the solid bits have to compete so hard against the overwhelming mess. There is a good film inside this second-rate movie. It’s just too bad that, this time, mediocrity won out.