So a dangerous criminal has broken out of jail and is coming after his ex-squeeze because she has a load of his money hidden away in her home (she doesn't know). The police are drafted in to stakeout the place (hence the movies title...huh huh) and watch over the woman whilst waiting for the crook so they can nick him. Its up to old man Dreyfuss and his younger partner Estevez to stake out this woman's home by night whilst two other cops (Lauria and Whitaker) stake it out by day.
As you can imagine much pissing around and slapstick ensues as the main mustachioed duo of Dreyfuss and Estevez play pranks on the other two cops, snooping around the woman's house without permission and eventually interacting with her (without permission). As already said its surprising to see Dreyfuss being the cocky arrogant ladies man who basically gets Estevez into hot water with his unprofessional antics. You really really expect the wild card to be Estevez, instead he tends to sit on the sidelines being the uppity by the book cop in the duo. In fact this movie is mainly a vehicle for Dreyfuss truth be told, he's the man, he gets all the action and he gets the girl.
This movie really took me back though, I remember seeing it on the shelves at my local videostore when I was a kid...hell I remember it coming out in the videostore. Its such a dated movie and so so very 80's (naturally), all the action is well shot and directed but its completely overblown in places, hyped up with a typical action movie score ad chock full of those typical action movie type sequences and closeups with witty quickfire quips. The only surprise the movie has going is the fact the bad guy doesn't die in a big way...he merely dies...oh spoiler warning...well not really its bloody obvious, this is an 80's action movie for heavens sake.
The finale I'm talking of is quite an anti climax actually. The whole chase sequence is filled with guns firing, bullets pinging off metal just missing every bodies heads and both antagonist and protagonist are leaping around like gazelles on too much coffee. This all takes place in a logging factory with lots of big dangerous machines so you'd bet your bottom dollar the bad guy will get cut in half or squashed...or whatever. Well you'd think that but no! not in this action movie, nope it looks great, its tense but in the end it limps to a weak conclusion and of course soppy ending.
I'm not saying the movie is poor...but I found it average, a poor man's watered down 'Lethal Weapon' really. Estevez and Dreyfuss are a good combination (oddly enough) and they do spark well off each other at times. The start of the movie is the most entertaining with the duo messing around and...ermm staking out. But as things progress and a love story blossoms it gets a little drab and cheesy, of course its predictable and really the main villain isn't that bad, or not bad enough. I know its not meant to be an overly violent action fest but its not overly funny either...just a standard cop flick with a standard wise-ass duo who like to break their bosses balls being rebellious (twas the thing back then).
There isn't an abundance of action either to be honest, the odd car chase and gunfight routines. Being one of the earlier action movies in the genre it gets a pass as the concept is a little more original than other cop flicks and the duo are an unexpected quirky double team. Up against other big hitters like 'Lethal Weapon' '48 Hours' 'Beverly Hills Cop' etc...it can't quite compete but it holds its own just about. It does the job but it won't have you thinking about it much after the credits have rolled. Its a fast food action movie and its...well ya know...very 80's (get your Boglins out).
Seattle cops Chris (Emilio Estevez) and Bill (Richard Dreyfuss) are assigned to stakeout the home of an ex-girlfriend Maria of an escaped con to see if he will turn up there. Complications arise when Bill "violates procedure" and falls for the slippery con's old flame, played by the sexy Madeleine Stowe. Aiden Quinn is effective as psychopathic boyfriend/con who is on his way to Seattle to pay Maria a visit to get something that 'belongs' to him. Dan Lauria and Forrest Whitaker as the other cop pair that alternate stakeout duties with Chris and Bill.
The two actors play off of each other marvelously and are clearly having a great time as the film itself shifts through about a half dozen genres. The constantly shifting tones only ensures that you will never be bored. It is essentially a buddy cop movie, and the stars keep it fresh while veteran filmmaker John Badham keeps things energetic and surprisingly light despite some seedy and needlessly violent moments.
The screenplay is chock full of cliches, but writer Jim Kouf can be quite imaginative when he needs to be and he keeps coming up with clever bits to keep the proceedings enjoyable. A great example is the scene where Dreyfuss sleeps over at Madeleine Stowe's place for the first time. And speaking of Stowe, she is radiant here giving a breakthrough performance. It's a shame that her star didn't shine brighter and longer, but co-star Aidan Quinn isn't given much to do with his stock character. His main function is to throw violence into what is basically an entertaining piece of '80's fluff.
"Stakeout" is a well made film, short on laughs but big on smiles, with two great lead actors who carry this a long way.