Visually striking but emotionally hollow, Warren Beatty’s film version of Chester Gould’s comic creation is an underwhelming would-be blockbuster. The only character you can get invested in is Madonna’s Breathless Mahoney. Everyone else, including our strong-jawed hero, is as two-dimensional as the comic strip they came from. It’s kinda fun to spot well-known actors in cameos throughout the movie — keep your eyes peeled for Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Mandy Patinkin, and Dick Van Dyke to name a few.
In addition to more engaging characters, the film also needs more memorable action set-pieces and more humor. It reminds me of Disney’s Tron in many ways — sparkly as hell, but so disengaging that you wonder if it wasn’t made by aliens. And as director, Beatty missed a tremendous opportunity with all the blandly staged musical numbers.
While I disagree with the Academy’s nomination of Al Pacino for his grating performance as Big Boy Caprice, the film took home deserved awards for art direction, makeup, and song (Stephen Sondheim’s “Sooner or Later”). It also earned nominations for Vittorio Storaro’s gorgeous cinematography, Milena Canonero’s costume design, and sound.