A disciplined Soviet cop travels to America and partners with a
disheveled but dedicated Chicago cop to catch a vicious drug dealer.
Red Heat (1988)
Directed by Walter Hill
Written by Harry Kleiner, Walter Hill, Troy Kennedy-Martin
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Belushi, Peter Boyle,
Ed O'Ross, Laurence Fishburne, Gina Gershon, Richard Bright
Arnold Schwarzenegger has great chemistry with almost anybody, thanks mostly due to the fact that the man's charisma could be bottled and sold in most stores as a form of Viagra. Regrettably, this super power did not extend to Jim Belushi, as the two are so mismatched that there is no chemistry to be seen. The concept, especially in the late 80's, is a great one. Hardcore Soviet cop meets cocky Chicago cop? On paper, it sounds great. Despite an all-star director like Walter Hill, the film just doesn't work. Does it want to be an action thriller or a comedy? In the end, it doesn't commit either way.
Meet Capt. Ivan Danko (Schwarzenegger), a tough as nails, by the book, disciplined officer of the Soviet Union. When his arch-enemy, drug dealer Viktor Rosta (O'Ross) escapes Moscow after killing Danko's partner, Danko follows him to Chicago after he gets arrested for a moving violation. There, Rosta escapes again after attacking the partner of cocky Chicago cop Sgt. Art Ridzik (Belushi), who partners with Danko to catch Rosta. That's about where it stops being interesting, because the hunt for Rosta and the rabbit hole it sends our two heroes down is dull as dishwater. And it doesn't help that Arnold and Belushi just don't have a lick of chemistry.
Red Heat is one of those films that should be left in the 80's. It feels incredibly dated, and it's sandwiched between two of Arnold's absolute masterpieces: 1987's Predator and 1990's Kindergarten Cop. Sure, Twins and Total Recall are in there too, but I don't like those as much. Anyway, my point is Red Heat could've been so much better, especially if it went all the way into action or all the way into comedy. Having a toe in each pond hurts the film substantially.