This Canadian buddy cop movie starts like most buddy cop movies do, with two grouchy detectives accidentally ripping a victim’s body in half. It’s a gruesome beginning but it’s also darkly comic and a sign of things to come. David Bouchard (Patrick Huard) and Martin Ward (Colm Feore) are called to the Ontario-Québec border after a body is discovered dangling from the boundary marker. David, a Quebecer who doesn’t give a damn about your police procedures, and Martin, a Torontonian who gives a great many damns about all police procedures, butt heads while trying to pass the investigation back to the other side. It’s to no avail because both are assigned to the case. They have to figure out who’s behind the murder while also overcoming their cultural and linguistic differences.
Having neither caught up on the minutiae of intra-Canadian rivalries nor brushed up on my high school French, some finer points of comedy flew over me. There’s a lot of French word play that I imagine is great fun for francophones, judging from David’s many smirks, but even if you don’t keep pace with the lesson on conjugating expletives, the humor is broad enough for those of us accessing the subtitles. Laughs come not just from language and wit but also from cultural and personality differences.
David and Martin are opposites in every way, the one exception being their competence at police work. The odd couple pairing is a worn device, and this film relies a little too much on stereotype to draw out their characters. Of course the headstrong David wears a black leather jacket and pummels suspects into his trunk. He’s “Rambo on steroids” according to Martin, a guy who prefers black turtlenecks and chatting with perps over a glass of ginger ale. But even if David and Martin are predictable, actors Huard and Feore have a strong chemistry that leans into their characters’ stereotypes, giving the detectives and their relationship a lot more crackle.
The fiery back-and-forth between the two feeds into the absurdity of the story, which again starts with a half-shredded corpse before escalating into a deadly plot that threatens the (fake) professional hockey league, at least the Canadian side of it. David and Martin don’t just have one murder to solve but several, and all are a matter of national importance because, well, hockey. The stakes are high, but the action and comedy live up, much to the enjoyment of me. There are some small but satisfying laughs. My favorite might be towards the end of the film when the killer gives chase to Martin, except that the former is wearing a gigantic mascot costume and can’t negotiate the staircase with his gigantic mascot feet. The more intense scenes deliver too, such as the time David busts his way, warrant be damned, into a suspect’s house. He’s pretty proud of himself, until a weed garden is set alight and he has to crawl out of burning building filled with marijuana smoke under the cover of a bathtub. It’s high times for all.
Prod: Kevin Tierney
Dir: Eric Canuel
Writer: Leila Basen, Alex Epstein, Patrick Huard, Kevin Tierney
Cast: Patrick Huard, Colm Feore, Lucie Laurier, Sylvain Marcel, Pierre Lebeau, Ron Lea, Sarain Boylan, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, Louis-José Houde, Patrice Bélanger
Time: 116 min
Lang: French and English