A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Rising Sun, a novel by Michael Crichton about the cutthroat competitive tactics of a giant Japanese conglomerate, was accused of Japan-bashing. Few such complaints are likely to be lodged against the movie, which uses the world of business as a backdrop for a much more conventional Hollywood plot, in which Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan meet "Basic Instinct." All of the real villains in the film are Americans, and few of the Japanese are developed much beyond the complexity necessary to make them interesting foils for the cops.
The movie takes place in modern Los Angeles, where a Japanese multinational corporation operates out of one of those towering skyscrapers where the security guards seem to know everybody's business. A kinky murder takes place during a social function in the building: A sexy model is found apparently strangled to death on the table in the board room. Most of the clues lead directly to Eddie Sakamura (Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa), the woman's lover, who occupies a shadowland between business and crime, and acts as if he has spent a good deal of time studying Al Pacino as "Scarface." An L.A. cop (Harvey Keitel) is on the scene in moments, but this is a touchy case because the Japanese don't want to cloud the image of their newly launched corporation. So the LAPD turns to its "special liaison" unit and calls in a shadowy, legendary cop named John Connor (Sean Connery) and his partner, Web Smith (Wesley Snipes).
From the moment Connor and Smith arrive on the scene, the movie turns into a variation on the cop buddy movie. In fact, it reaches all the way back to perhaps the earliest versions of the formula, Sherlock Holmes stories and Charlie Chan movies. Connery plays a Holmes/Chan clone who is unnaturally prescient and wise, and Snipes is Dr. Watson/No. 1 Son, the straight man, always missing the clues until the older man points out how obvious they are.
This is a routine that quickly grows tedious. Connery has any number of speeches in which he brilliantly analyzes the "Japanese mind," predicts what tactics will be used, penetrates ploys, anticipates strategies, and in general seems able to see through walls and predict the future. Many of his speeches have a guru-esque quality, as when Snipes is thrilled by a new lead and Connery intones: "When something looks too good to be true, then it's not true. Everything she said about Eddie might have been true. But the real question is, why was she saying it?" The dialogue grows platonic: Snipes: "Look, this Julia woman accidentally . . ." Connery: "Nothing is happening accidentally. She's a messenger." Snipes: "You think someone sent her? OK, who?" Connery: "The bad guys." Thank you very much.