Of course, you could go the High Noon route and shun your B-movie trappings for something with a greater depth of feeling. That’s more where the movie’s head is at—scantily clad ladies aside—but it can’t get there, either. Pearce has enough bridled agitation in his face to pass as a small-town sheriff, but the script doesn’t give him anything other than plot points. There’s the prologue where he vows to stop carrying a gun and the moment that he decides to pick his gun back up. Everything in the middle does little to bridge this gap in a meaningful way, opting instead to show him beating dudes up and flirting with bartenders, neither of which he does with flair. There’s a brief moment between Pearce and a captured biker where they bond over their military service that you can buy into, but that’s small potatoes.
“Pearce has enough bridled agitation in his face to pass as a small-town sheriff…”
Caught between worlds, Disturbing the Peace isn’t as fun as it begs to be or as eloquent as it’s trying to be. Pearce’s character feels like a pull-string doll with a plastic scowl, stocked with gruff cop dialogue like “now’s not the time to start feeling sorry for yourself” and “I will arrest you.” He’s an archetype with nothing added—boiled in lightly salted water, then dumped on your plate. On paper, the movie has a plot and characters with easily understood motivations, but that does not a good movie make.
Before leaving, I want to say that the end credits music is completely detached from the tone of the movie. That may sound inconsequential, but it’s jarring enough to become one of the movie’s most enjoyable moments.
"…Guy Pearce plays Jim Dillon, and with a name like that, you’d better be a Texas marshal haunted by your past."