Ok fine, we all know that was a load of shit. Jay Leno isn’t synonymous with anything I listed in that last paragraph. Yet here he is, the lead in a movie about a hard boiled Detroit cop who plays by his own rules, seeks to avenge the death of his junkyard night watchman friend, teams up with a cop from Japan (Pat Morita (Honeymoon in Vegas)) who he has culture clashes with and all of that other boiler plate shit in almost every fuckin’ action film from the 80’s. He pulls his gun at the drop of a hat, he gets into a motorcycle chase as well as a car chase, he fights with his superior, he has an unbelievably messy disgusting apartment with empty fast food boxes everywhere, he hits up a bottle of booze after a hard day at work and etc. I mean Jay Leno fuckin’ kills people in this thing.
However, as intriguing as that may sound the picture itself is unremarkable. You’ve seen it all before and done way better. The movie this is trying to emulate the most is Beverly Hills Cop but Running Scared also comes to mind. Both star comedians (Eddie Murphy in the former and Billy Crystal in the later) as wisecracking cops who are really damn good at their jobs. They may seem like unmanageable goofballs but they get results through determination, doing illegal shit like breaking and entering and stupidly constantly putting themselves in serious danger.
There really isn’t a ton to say about this piece. The whole thing feels like it’s on autopilot with no one aspect standing out even a little. The fact that Pat Morita gets one measly brief mention from me and I’m only now bringing up Chris Sarandon (Fright Night) as the incredibly bland villain and weirdo Tom Noonan (The Monster Squad) as his number two should show you how uninteresting this movie is. Even these fine actors who are usually entertaining to watch couldn’t do much with the material.
I was hoping for better because some of director Lewis Teague’s other work is kinda fun like The Jewel of the Nile, Cat’s Eye and the notorious Cujo. But it comes off too low grade. The action isn’t very well done or inventive, the jokes aren’t funny and the story is whatever (a rich businessman steals a Japanese supercharger that he wants to use in his new cars).
If you’re one of those people who think all action movies are dumb or that anyone can do one then Collision Course will probably cement your stance. At the same time you could use it as a counterargument to say that it really does take a lot of effort and natural charisma to craft a badass character and film. Jay Leno doesn’t work as a cool crime fighting ass kicker. He can’t back his shit up like say Eddie Murphy actually kinda could. Look, Leno isn’t the worst actor but you can totally tell they tried their best to save his performance in editing. The camera doesn’t hold on him for more than a few seconds before cutting away. That must’ve been how long he could keep it together before fucking up.
And hey, I don’t begrudge Leno for trying out something different because you never know how things will turn out. He couldn’t have guessed that in a few short years the Tonight Show gig would come along and change his career forever. I guess an action film was just one of the avenues he was exploring at the time. It wasn’t in the cards for him to be the next big thing in the genre and after re-watching this one that’s probably for the best.
This buddy cop picture is a mere curiosity now. It’s all about the weirdness of Leno cast in the hero role. It seems only to exist to give your friend a confused look on their face. “Jay Leno did an 80’s action movie?” Yea, he did. It’s not as bad as you think (or hope) it is but it damn sure ain’t good.