Veteran Hollywood penner
Robert Towne (Chinatown,
Shampoo) creates a simmering, atmospheric and elegantly convoluted
world of drug dealers, DEA agents, old friendships and new romances in
this noirish crime-drama. The title alludes both to the drink they all
keep drinking and the deep yellow Los Angeles sunsets Towne keeps
getting cinematographer Conrad Hall to capture – there is no doubt the
director romanticizes his home town and movie history in one go here.
And thanks to solid, layered performances from his three stars and some
brilliant dialogue, especially in the first half, Tequila Sunrise
becomes almost as alluring as Towne arguably aimed for. In that first
half, Kurt Russell gives what may be his best performance ever. Which is
why the eventual occlusion of his character is something of a letdown.
It coincides with the introduction of Raul Julia as a powerful,
larger-than-life Mexican police commandante, and his tug of war with
Gibson is indicative of the film's less inspired final part, in which
Towne clutches at straws and paints himself into a Miami Vice-ish
corner which is clearly out of his depth. The action sequences towards the end
leave a lot to be desired. There is also a fine jazzy score by Dave Grusin and a wonderful supporting performance from the always dependable
J. T. Walsh.