Mulholland Falls

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Mulholland Falls (1996)

Directed by Lee Tamahori

Starring: Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, John Malkovich

Mulholland Falls is a modern film noir story directed by Lee Tamahori. His other works include Along Came a Spider and Die Another Day. The film was written by Peter Dexter and Floyd Mutrux. The stars of the film include Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, John Malkovich, and a handful of other recognized names.

Max Hoover (Nolte) and his elite squad of detectives are known for swift action against the criminals who try to set up shop in Los Angeles. Now they’re investigating the murder of a young woman found in the middle of an abandoned lot. This investigation takes them into dangerous territory as they find themselves at odds with the U.S. government and General Thomas Timms (Malkovich). As the plot unravels the Hoover finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that puts his life in danger. Now it’s up to him to bring the truth to light, he just needs to stay alive doing it.

This movie is a mixed bag for me. Some of the acting is good and most of the story worked for me.

The acting is great when it’s Nolte and Malkovich, the two make this movie better with their performances. Nolte seems to pull most of the movie along behind him and does a great job with the role he’s given. Malkovich, in my opinion, is almost always good and this was no exception. There were also good performances from Chris Penn and Daniel Baldwin.

When the acting failed it came from Melanie Griffith and Chazz Palminteri. Both of their roles were important to the movie, but they seemed to be delivered over the top. Griffith was definitely the worst offender in the movie, her scenes are almost annoying at times. She even managed to win a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress. Sad to see coming from an Academy Award nominee.

The story, as a whole, is a good one. The plot has some nice twists and some good dialogue. Unfortunately the filmmakers failed to take advantage of these twists and ended up with a painfully predictable film. I enjoyed the story despite this, but it never seemed to capitalize on the premise.

Perhaps film critic Peter Stack sums this one up best. “Mulholland Falls falls flat a lot. The best of the old noir detective dramas had lively pacing and crisp tough-guy dialogue. This movie seems at times like an exercise in slow motion.”

Despite the negatives, this might be worth watching if you’re into the old noir style films. It’s a fun movie at times and despite being predictable has a decent payoff. I give this one 2.7 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 107 minutes

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