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A San Francisco detective (Elliott) goes wild when he discovers his partner dead and the presumed culprit standing over him. After beating the man to death, he comes to his senses and realizes that he has to get rid of the body of the beaten man. Dumping the man in the river, he returns to his partner's body and calls in the death. He is then given a new partner (Morales) and is assigned to investigate the death of a man just pulled from the river causing all the expected problems. However, the investigation does lead to police corruption and his own partner's involvement in drug running. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Anchored by Sam Elliott's intense, hard-edged performance, (one of his best since "Lifeguard"), "Dog Watch" tells a good story in terse, efficient fashion, even though it never quiet overcomes its straight-to-video origins. While the focus of its story should be internal -- Elliott's reaction to the realization that he committed a fatal mistake -- the movie drifts into external concerns as Elliott and his partner, Esai Morales, investigate corrupt cops and drug deals. The internal and external stories are firmly linked but the movie's emphasis is on the wrong half of the combination.
The best scene comes when Elliott has a tense, strained dinner with Morales and his wife, the excellent Jessica Steen, who matches Elliott line for line, expression for expression. The worst scene comes when Elliott later visits Steen's residence and offers her an apology of sorts. Even Elliott can't make us buy this out-of-character moment.
Sam Elliott seems to have a tendency toward physical exhibitionism. (Remember his gratuitous nude scene in "The Legacy?") Here we see him bare-chested in bed when he answers a late-night phone call. There's no need for "beefcake" in this scene but it gives Elliott yet another chance to show off his lean, hairy torso -- never touched by a razor -- and even at age 51 this torso still looks mighty good.
Elliott also deserves notice for the scene in which he delivers a kick to a man's crotch. (You can almost hear the testicles squish.) His aim is perfect and his kicking style would do a Rockette proud.
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