Watch Loose Cannons
- 1 hr 34 min
In the 1990s comedy Loose Cannons, Gene Hackman and Dan Aykroyd star as the odd couple of law enforcement, two cops with wildly different approaches to the job at hand. Detective MacArthur Stern (Hackman) is a seasoned veterans detective of the Los Angeles Police Department with a penchant for old-timey cop tropes like chasing down suspects on foot and taking a loaded gun into a crowded area. His new partner Ellis Fielding (Aykroyd) is a younger, nerdy figure with a photographic memory and a tendency to wear his emotions on his sleeve.
The plot of the movie revolves around a case that brings the two officers together after it is discovered that a dead man found in the Los Angeles River had smuggled out a list of American military secrets from a German laboratory during World War II and carried it with him for decades. While the case seems like a complicated espionage effort, with officials from the CIA, FBI, and KGB involved in the investigation, what complicates things even further is that the document is written in a code that Fielding believes he can crack with his photographic memory and an intricate, poetic method that he's devised to make sense of it all.
While the two men's investigation leads them on a wild goose chase of suspects and double-crosses, what stands out in Loose Cannons is the dynamic between the two leads. Hackman and Aykroyd have genuine chemistry on screen, with the former exuding a world-weary gruffness that plays off the latter's quirkiness and youthful naivete. The film's director, Bob Clark, reportedly cast Hackman in the role specifically to play against his established on-screen persona, which he had made a career of playing in gritty crime thrillers like The French Connection and The Conversation.
The film also boasts a strong supporting cast, with Dom DeLuise and Nancy Travis, in particular, standing out in their roles as a flamboyant gay man and an ambitious assistant district attorney, respectively. Despite the jokes about DeLuise's character's sexuality often feeling outdated by today's standards, his flamboyant antics are played with such warmth and good humor that it's hard not to be charmed by him. Travis, for her part, brings a lot of spunk and intelligence to a character that could have easily been relegated to "love interest" status in a lesser film.
As the film progresses, it becomes clear that what makes Loose Cannons stand out is its refreshing attitude towards its central duo. Rather than playing them as an oil-and-water pair that somehow work together despite their differences, Stern and Fielding are genuinely fond of each other by the end of the film. There's even an emotional climax where the latter is revealed to have a personal connection to the case that helps to humanize him and make him more sympathetic in the eyes of the audience.
Of course, it's worth noting that Loose Cannons is very much a product of its time. The film leans heavily on '80s-era buddy-cop tropes, from car chases to shootouts to confrontations with the higher-ups in the police department. There's also a sense of hijinks throughout the film that reads as somewhat dated when viewed through a more modern lens, particularly in scenes involving DeLuise's character or the film's general treatment of queer characters.
Overall, though, Loose Cannons holds up surprisingly well as a fun, lighthearted comedy with strong performances from its lead actors. While some of its humor may be dated, it's clear that the film's heart is in the right place, and its central message about the importance of teamwork and mutual respect between colleagues still resonates today. For fans of Gene Hackman or Dan Aykroyd or those looking for a fun, silly comedy from the '90s, Loose Cannons is definitely worth a watch.
Loose Cannons is a 1990 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.9.