"Waterlogged Crime Thriller With Stellar Performances"
Go into this thing with low expectations, with an affinity for fine acting, and you should have an agreeable time.For a film with a paralyzingly stupid crime plot, The Presidio surprisingly manages to affect as a series of character studies, with a quartet of excellent performances from the diverse likes of Sean Connery, Mark Harmon, Meg Ryan and Jack Warden. When a female MP is killed on the military base of San Francisco's Presidio, Lieutenant Colonel Caldwell (Connery) and civilian cop Jay Austin (Harmon) team up despite their difference with one another -- Caldwell demoted Austin while Austin served under him for arresting an officer after a drunken-driving offense -- to apprehend the culprit(s) responsible. But the case is mostly secondary to the characters, with Austin's infatuation with Caldwell's daughter, Donna (Ryan), and Caldwell's friendship with an old retired comrade, Sergeant Major Ross Maclure (Warden), taking center stage. Director Peter Hyams, who worked with Connery in his and Connery's best film, the sci-fi action thriller Outland seven years prior, is a proven action-ace filmmaker, with a penchant for elaborate chase sequences; but the ones on display here aren't particularly inventive or exciting, and the grand finale that takes place inside a water-bottling warehouse plays out pretty much like you'd expect -- water (lots and lots of it) goes everywhere. And while some of the humor is well-milked, some of it's just plain inappropriate when injected into action scenes that we're supposed to be taking seriously (and I'm not taking into account an eye-rollingly contrived barroom brawl; it's actually semi-neat watching Caldwell take on a well-muscled brute by using just his right thumb). Having detailed all of this, as aforewritten the characters are much more lively and interesting than expected. Harmon shows commendable appeal and variety; Ryan is jazzingly alive, firing on all emotional pistons and grounding them like a pro; Warden is his usually agreeable gruff self; and, best of all, there's Connery, who has two standout scenes -- one, a household spat with Ryan; two, a funeral speech -- that easily rank with some of the best work he's ever done. It'd be a shame if these performances were ignored in light of the far-from-good company they're in; and it'd be doubly wrong to deny Hyams is a great lover of actors. Now if only he could be more consistent in affording them material that's good through and through!If this doesn't satisfyingly tickle your curiosity, seek out the outstanding "Outland", then.