Tequila Sunrise

The long-awaited second feature of writer-director Robert Towne (Personal Best) is an action thriller about two former high school friends, played by Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell, who find themselves on opposite sides of the law; Michelle Pfeiffer is the woman caught between the two. Despite a good deal of witty, bantering dialogue and clever plotting, some interesting moral ambiguity about the relative corruption of a cop (Russell) and a drug dealer (Gibson), and a likable performance by Raul Julia, this film seems overinfected by the kind of southern California narcissism that makes all of the male characters a little too pleased with themselves, with Pfeiffer little more than a beanbag in the little-boy macho games. Towne’s knowingness about the setting and milieu hurts as well as helps; the terrain is so familiar he can’t distance himself from it, as Roman Polanski managed to do with Towne’s own Chinatown script. In a world where everyone is some kind of insider, the viewer may feel left out in the cold. (JR)

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