There’s something profoundly wrong with Loose Cannons. Actually, it’s hard to find anything about the film right.
I’ll just start rattling off.
Stan Cole’s editing is terrible. I love how he cuts to medium shots and the actors’ expressions have completely changed. I guess he gets the basic positioning right. Some of the fault for that incompetency problem falls of director Clark, who isn’t getting enough coverage.
Getting the Clark issue out of the way… Loose Cannons isn’t poorly directed. Oh, the action stuff is weak, but it’s generally okay. Clark doesn’t need Panavision but he manages it pretty well. It’s everything else.
The film is a perfect example of why a score is important. Paul Zaza’s score is more like incidental music for a commercial. There’s no flow to it. It contributes an incredibly disjointing experience.
Of course, the film appears to be heavily edited. David Alan Grier shows up for a scene, seems important, then disappears. So do Dick O’Neill and Leon Rippy. Nancy Travis, with fifth billing (and basically the only female character), is barely present. Fourth billed Ronny Cox is in it even less.
Cox is bad—it’s Clark and the script’s fault—but Travis has a moment or two.
Gene Hackman’s not good, but he manages not to look embarrassed, which is amazing. Dan Aykroyd tries hard and fails. He’s not able to do the straight acting or the goofy stuff, probably because he’s not right for the role at all.
It’s an atrocious film.
Directed by Bob Clark; screenplay by Richard Christian Matheson, Richard Matheson and Clark; director of photography, Reginald H. Morris; edited by Stan Cole; music by Paul Zaza; production designer, Harry Pottle; produced by Aaron Spelling and Alan Greisman; released by Tri-Star Pictures.
Starring Dan Aykroyd (Ellis Fielding), Gene Hackman (MacArthur Stern), Dom DeLuise (Harry Gutterman), Ronny Cox (Smiley), Nancy Travis (Riva), Robert Prosky (Von Metz), Paul Koslo (Grimmer), Dick O’Neill (Captain), Jan Tríska (Steckler), Leon Rippy (Weskit), David Alan Grier (Drummond) and S. Epatha Merkerson (Rachel).