“The Presidio”

By Jae-Ha Kim

Rated R. Paramount Home Video, 1988
Starring: Sean Connery, Mark Harmon, Meg Ryan, Jack Warden, Mark Blum. Director: Peter Hyams

The Presidio is about two law enforcement officers who don’t get along but learn to respect each other as they solve a crime.

Sound familiar? Lethal Weapon has made a franchise out of this hackneyed formula. But unless the chemistry between the two stars works, the viewer doesn’t care what happens to either of the characters.

Mark Harmon is a terrific actor — on TV. But stick him in a feature film and he’s not so interesting. Throw him alongside Sean Connery and he barely registers. And not even Connery’s intelligence and charm can override the banality of this plot.

Harmon plays a San Francisco cop who in the past has had run-ins with Connery’s provost marshal. During his time serving in the Scotsman’s military unit, Harmon punched out another officer. So Connery is none too pleased to learn that he must work alongside hotheaded Harmon after a female military police officer is killed during a break-in at the Presidio army base. To make matters worse Harmon decides to romance Connery’s plucky daughter (Meg Ryan).

Never mind that the murderer is obvious from the beginning. Or that Harmon and Connery exhibit less finesse trailing the suspect than a pair of Cub Scouts. Or that the shoot-outs aren’t very compelling (bang! bang! miss).

The real crime here is that this made-for-TV storyline, which wouldn’t have cut it on an episode of Mannix, was given the go-ahead for feature film treatment.

Though poor Ryan is given nothing to do but look cute and act spunky, the charismatic actress shines in her brief moments onscreen, especially in her scenes with Connery. A better casting move would’ve placed her in the role as the rebellious cop and Harmon as Connery’s pretty-boy son.

Thank goodness for the lovely San Francisco scenery, which is the true star of this movie.


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