Critic Reviews



Based on 14 critic reviews provided by
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Kurt Russell has never seemed more clever, Mel Gibson more vulnerable nor Michelle Pfeiffer more goddess-like. Once upon a time, before the pictures got small and the hills were obscured by smog, the Hollywood sign read: "Hollywoodland." That was back when Tequila Sunrise, an intelligent, escapist epic for adults, wouldn't have seemed the anomaly it seems today. [2 Dec 1988, p.C1]
Boston Globe
What sets Tequila Sunrise apart is its layering, its existential dimension. The characters played by Gibson and Russell have been sanded down by a kind of fatalism we normally associate with characters in French gangster movies. There's more than one facet to them. They're entertaining. And urgent. Even when they're just going through routine genre moves, they put laid-back spin on them. [2 Dec 1988, p.29]
Chicago Tribune
As a screenplay Tequila Sunrise is a very impressive piece of work. But as a movie, it's knotty and confused. [2 Dec 1988, p.B]
San Francisco Chronicle
Tequila Sunrise is a sharp-looking, tantalizing romantic thriller whose assets overcome a labored plot and several lapses into L.A. hipness that result in sheer inscrutability. [2 Dec 1988, p.E1]
Tequila Sunrise is an intriguing movie with interesting characters, but it might have worked better if it had found a cleaner narrative line from beginning to end. It's hard to surrender yourself to a film that seems to be toying with you.
Luckily, Towne has assembled a marvelous cast who somehow manage to keep the film moving, despite their obvious confusion over just what it is they're supposed to be feeling.
Los Angeles Times
Written with his trademark artfulness, nicely acted and gorgeously pretty, Tequlia Sunrise finally blows away into slick unsubstantiality. [2 Dec 1988, p.1]
The movie has the fuzzy focus of someone who has stared too long at a light bulb. Narrative points aren't made and the wrong points are emphasized. It could also be that too much footage was shot so that, when the time came for editing, a lot of essential material had to be cut out.
Chicago Reader
Despite a good deal of witty, bantering dialogue and clever plotting, some interesting moral ambiguity about the relative corruption of a cop (Russell) and a drug dealer (Gibson), and a likable performance by Raul Julia, this film seems overinfected by the kind of southern California narcissism that makes all of the male characters a little too pleased with themselves, with Pfeiffer little more than a beanbag in the little-boy macho games.
There's not much kick in this cocktail, despite its mix of quality ingredients. Casually glamorous South Bay is the setting for a story of little substance as writer-director Robert Towne attempts a study of friendship and trust but gets lost in a clutter of drug dealings and police operations.

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