One Good Cop

Imagine a down-and-Dirty Harry-style thriller about a righteous New York cop whose partner is killed by a freaked-out ice addict. The cop gets even by going after a scuzzy — and, of course, Hispanic — drug kingpin. Now imagine a sweet, inspirational domestic drama about a childless couple who inherit three adorable little girls and struggle to keep them. Put the two together and you’ve got One Good Cop, a schizophrenic high-concept movie in which Michael Keaton carries out an Eastwood-Bronson-like vendetta — but all because he wuvs his new family. When Keaton’s partner (Anthony LaPaglia), a widower with three little girls, is killed during a shoot-out, Keaton and his wife (Rene Russo) agree to look after the kids until they can be placed in foster homes. Then, because they haven’t been able to have children themselves, they decide to adopt them permanently. Unfortunately, they don’t have the $25,000 they need to make the down payment on a house — and without the house, they won’t have enough room to put up three kids. Desperate, Keaton breaks into a vicious drug dealer’s apartment and, at gunpoint, steals a wad of cash, taking far more than he needs and leaving the surplus as an anonymous gift to a minister. What a guy! Had the story and characters been sketched in a little better, the movie might have been a fascinating portrait of a lone-wolf cop’s self-justifying revenge. As it is, the family scenes are just a thin excuse for the usual vigilante-movie sadism; the hero’s above-the-law tactics are presented with a dismaying lack of irony. First-time writer-director Heywood Gould has a knack for live-wire action scenes, and Keaton gives a compelling performance. In the end, though, One Good Cop plays as an unconscionably cynical blend of violence and sentimentality. It seems to be telling its audience, ”If you don’t like that formula, try this one.” C-

One Good Cop
  • Movie
  • 114 minutes