HOMICIDE starts out as a tense, superbly acted police drama, but degenerates fast when it starts dabbling in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and questions of identity and ethnicity.
Joe Mantegna is superb in the role of Bobby Gold, a tough Chicago cop known as "the orator" for to his ability to sweet-talk villains into deals with the law. He regards himself as a cop first and a Jew hardly at all, and reacts with annoyance when the well-connected family of a murdered elderly
Jewish woman pull strings to ensure that he is assigned the case. The dead woman's beautiful granddaughter (Rebecca Pidgeon) shames Gold into reconsidering his sneering attitude toward his own race, and soon he is hot on an increasingly unconvincing trail that involves cryptic Hebrew scholars,
underground Zionist groups, and an overnight transformation for our hero from cynical cop to militant Jewish activist.
It's sad that HOMICIDE goes so drastically off the rails, because the first half of the film is a positive joy. Writer-director David Mamet does a brilliant job of capturing the camaraderie among Gold's colleagues, with his trademark staccato, repetitious dialogue building to some hilarious
exchanges. The action sequences are cleverly and even humorously handled. But the later, "conspiracy" scenes are as unconvincing and somber as the earlier "cop" sequences are concretely realized and funny--a structural problem that is particularly disappointing in the light of Mamet's superbly
crafted earlier films, HOUSE OF GAMES and THINGS CHANGE. Not even Mantegna can make us believe the conversion his character is supposed to undergo; things change, but not that fast, and not with so little explanation.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: HOMICIDE starts out as a tense, superbly acted police drama, but degenerates fast when it starts dabbling in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and questions of identity and ethnicity. Joe Mantegna is superb in the role of Bobby Gold, a tough Chicago cop k… (more)