Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beverly Hills Copy: "Fatal Beauty" (1987)

Whoopi Goldberg, complete with a stressed lieutenant and a Harold Faltermeyer score, becomes Axela Foley in a horribly written film.

Rita (Whoopi Goldberg) is a female cop in a stew of asshole male chauvinism. The opening of the film has a drug bust go wrong, as Rita tries to save one of her informants, but loses the perp.

Because of a high cocaine cutter (it really is hard to get good help these days), a batch of PCP laced cocaine is released on the streets of Los Angeles. The powder has a buzz before driving the user crazy and then killing them. The powder is being distributed by Leo (Brad Dourif), with the blessing of millionaire Kroll (Harris Yulin). Kroll's right hand man, Mike (Sam Elliott), is assigned to follow Rita as she investigates where the deadly blow is coming from. What follows is a bunch of action sequences that do not make a lot of sense leading up to the violent finale.

As is the case the majority of the time, Goldberg is better than her material. She tries to turn Rita into a character, and almost succeeds. Too bad director Tom Holland does nothing but string together a bunch of shootouts instead of moving the story forward. I have not seen this much gunplay since the news coverage of the Baghdad liberation. The gore and language are plentiful, as well. Elliott and Goldberg have a nice chemistry together, and you have probably heard by now of the deleted love scene. This could have been a good first entry in a Goldberg franchise if it was not for the fact that it looks like every other cop film to come out in the last twenty years.

John P. Ryan is the beet faced Lt. Kellerman, Rita's boss. He screams and rants, complains about the pressure from city hall, and even has a bottle of Pepto Bismol on his desk. He is every captain or lieutenant you have ever seen in a movie like this.

When Goldberg gets a good scene, like her memories of her daughter, or her scene with young punk Zack (James LeGros) in a deli, she shines. But I am so disappointed that the film makers decided no one came to the movie for that, and throw in a bunch of lame shootouts. Goldberg's fistfight with Zack's mother (Jennifer Warren) is so calculated it is scary.

I like Goldberg. She makes acting, whether it be comedic or dramatic, seem effortless. She deserves more awards. She also deserves better choices than "Fatal Beauty" and the unwatchable "Burglar." Fatal is the operative word here. (* *) out of five stars.