In my mind, at least, Tom Everett Scott went straight from “Shades,” the cool, turtle-necked drummer in “That Thing You Do” to middle aged man “dad” roles, with barely a “boyfriend of the leading lady” in between.
So it’s a little jarring, if not exactly refreshing, to see him more hardboiled than usual in “Collusions,” a slow and pokey murder mystery set among corrupt cops, corrupted prosecutors and a never-seen mobster whose case “can get me to the bench,” one Assistant District Attorney figures.
Scott plays Martin, an LAPD detective whose partner of ten years, Sean, is “missing” for much of the film. In flashbacks, these two are tight, given to profane bitching sessions about the fey names for paint colors and a routine borne of years of dangerous work.
“You ready to go and maybe not come back?”
The film’s slack pace isn’t helped by the constant back-and-forth/flashbacks-and-more-flashbacks script.
Sean (Jamison Jones) was last seen by his girlfriend, ADA Lindsay (Kelli Joan Bennett). They had a fight, and she has the bruises, busted lip and missing tooth to prove it.
Sean is a drinker with a temper, and Martin’s loyalty points him toward getting Sean “some help before he loses his badge.”
Lindsay is cagey, and in her flashbacks we see her angling to make her career with this high profile prosecution of that unseen kingpin. But one of her higher ups (Brynn Thayer) dangles a judgeship in front of her. “A bribe?” No, “a threat.”
And then there’s the Fed (Steven Culp of “Desperate Housewives,” “Thirteen Days”) who figures in all this, the threat of “justice” looming over a lot of people who seem willing to bail out of getting the bad guys because of careerism, bribes or threats or both.
Key grip and second time feature director Anthony Vietro (1998’s “The Perfect Leave” his other directing credit) makes this moderately twisty/turner police procedural the slowest 83 minute movie of the year.
Much of it is about the affair Lindsay was having with Sean, a guy who has to be reminded that “She’s not your girlfriend. She’s part of your job.”
There is no pace, little suspense and violence that arrives so late, and in such a muted form, that it only merits a shrug from any viewer still upright and awake into the third act.
It’s all talk talk talk talk talk, like a “Law & Order” with all the commercial breaks, shots of cops and attorneys getting in and out of cars, and the infamous electronic “DUN DuN” removed.
But Scott, last seen as Alicia Silverstone’s other half in “Sister of the Groom,” shows a menace that the movies don’t often let him play.
Making him one of the “bad people” in a tale where “bad things happen to bad people” works. If only the rest of the movie had.
Rating: unrated, violence, profanity, adult situations
Cast: Tom Everett Scott, Kelli Joan Bennett, Steven Culp, Tembi Locke, Jamison Jones and Brynn Thayer.
Credits: Directed by Anthony Vietro, script by Monica Zepeda. A Boomerang release.
Running time: 1:23