The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
From the loud, confident opening chords of the famous "Dragnet" theme music, I was filled with confidence that this 1987 "Dragnet" knew what it was doing. My confidence lasted several seconds. Then the original music segued into some kind of dreadful disco rap un-music, and my heart sank. How could they? How could they possibly make a movie called "Dragnet" and think that anything had to be done to the music?
They make the same mistake at the end, over the closing titles. I guess it's some kind of a business deal, and they want to make a lot of money with the music video or something. Hollywood is so greedy these days. God forbid that whoever wrote the original "Dragnet" theme should make a dime, when it can be cloned and corrupted for profit.
In between, the movie's pretty good. To be more precise, it is great for an hour, good for about 25 minutes and then heads doggedly for the Standard 1980s High Tech Hollywood Ending, which means an expensive chase scene and a shootout. God, I'm tired of chases and shootouts.
The movie takes the basic ingredients of the "Dragnet" TV shows, kids them and plugs them into a bizarre plot about a cult of Los Angeles pagans who hold weird satanic rites. Dan Aykroyd stars as Joe Friday, nephew of the original, and he was born to play this role, with his off-the-rack brown suit, his felt fedora and his square jaw with the Chesterfield pasted into it. Tom Hanks is his partner, the nonconforming Detective Streebek, game for anything but puzzled by Aykroyd's straight-arrow squareness. There's a series of "pagan murders" in L.A., and the two cops get on the trail, which leads to a phony TV preacher, some highly placed creeps and an absolutely hilarious pagan rite scene in which oddly assorted would-be pagans stomp around in thigh-high sheepskins, while the Virgin Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul) is prepared for sacrifice.