24 October 2001 | bob the moo
Brave idea but badly flawed
The film opens with a violent bank robbery before moving to follow Linda Hamilton investigating a violent sex crime. As the film progresses we follow Hamilton as she follows up the sex crime and gets involved in the investigation into the bank robbing gang.
This film feels like it is about Hamilton, Farley and Coolio pursuing the gang, but then this subplot of the sex crime doesn't seem to fit in. The reason for this is that this film is about Hamilton's character rather than the criminals or the crimes - these are included because they impact in her life. We see how Hamilton's relationship with her child is affected and how she is changed by dealing with the sex crimes.
The problem with this is that her character isn't that well scripted and the insights that we're supposed to get are not exactly draw out with any great subtlety. That wouldn't be a problem if the rest of the storylines were strong but they aren't - they all just seem to float around and only get followed when Hamilton is involved and they're only used to show her character in some way. The plot about the rapist is poor and is resolved due to a couple of very unlikely situations, while the gang scenes are good but the conclusion has no tension, no drama and brings no real closure to the story.
This is a shame because this is the best element of the slightly disjoined plot. The gang's leader is excellent as the unhinged Laurette - playing it sexy and dangerous, but isn't really given anywhere to go with it. As I said, these storylines just seem to be included to make a point about Hamilton's character, once the point is made the stories are pretty much tidied up as best as possible without too much consideration for those involved. An example of what I mean is Michael Mann's Heat - with it the crimes and the characters share the stage allowing emotional development, tension and action. With On The Line we get join the dots emotions without any sustained story, tension or action.
Hamilton is good in the lead role and does make her character believable - it is a shame that the direction makes most of the character points really obvious (like we're too stupid to understand), because she is good enough to bring emotions through gradually. Farley is OK, but isn't called on to do much - his character is pretty one-dimensional and doesn't rise out of the group of cops that get involved in squadroom banter. However you do get the feeling that his character was meant to be more that a step in the development of Hamilton's character. Coolio and the rest of the cops provide some comic relief, but again but really bring anything to the film.
This is a reasonable TV movie. It is a brave idea to base the whole movie around Hamilton's character but it doesn't really work out because it ignores the other elements of the film - where's the action of the robberies? Where's the drama with the sex crimes? These subplots could have been expanded in conjunction with the exploration of Hamilton's character and would have made a much fuller, more entertaining film. Such as it is - it's not great.