Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider
Popeye: Hey you! Haircut! Where are you goin’?
“Popeye” Doyle (Hackman) is a good cop who means well, but he’s also a bit of an alcoholic, womanizing, racist jerk who doesn’t get along with most people, except for his partner, Buddy (Scheider). The two stumble upon a potentially large drug bust and have to track the suspects while simultaneously trying to convince their superiors that they actually do have a real case here.
This movie tries to show the ugliness, and tedium, involved in everyday police work as Popeye and Buddy try to figure out what their suspects are up to. To me, though, they captured the boredom a bit too well, as I found myself getting bored watching the seemingly endless scenes of the police following the suspects around the streets of New York. They tried to liven it up with a sort of comedic scene in the subway, but that part seemed a little hard to believe to me. I would think Popeye Doyle would be a little less obvious than he was.
I guess I wouldn’t mind the duller parts so much if there had been more interesting dialogue for the characters. The movie Seven has a lot of scenes with the detectives sitting around theorizing and such, but their conversations were much more interesting than the few in this movie. A lot of the time there was just silence. It may be gritty and realistic, but I didn’t find it terribly compelling.
I do still applaud it, though, for being realistic. Especially in the way that the cops are not perfect, by any means. They’re not superheros. They get tired when running after people, they get injured in car chases, and they don’t always get their man. They’re just guys trying to make a difference on the streets.
I’m not sure I see exactly why this is such a classic, even though it is a fairly solid film. I just wish there was some more interesting dialogue and character development throughout.
10 – 3 for all those tedious scenes – 1 for not enough good dialogue + .4 for its realism = 6.4