By Rory L. Aronsky | October 12, 2004

A cop (Kirk B.R. Woller) sneaks into the back of a restaurant under siege, refusing backup, with a partner in tow (Karl Calhoun) who’s retiring in two days. Meanwhile, one of the robbers grabs the woman behind the cash register and threatens to kill her. One well-placed shot later, no more robber. Meanwhile, there’s a bomb in the restaurant set to detonate in seconds and the cop’s partner defuses it with one second to go. And when a cop says that he’s going to retire in two days, it’s easy enough to figure out what will happen to him. Does all this sound familiar? If you’re remotely familiar with the machinations of action movies, cop films, and others, then you know what’s going to take place in “Cliché”, which, depending on who you are, acts as a reminder of all the clichéd, predictable plots, characters, and subtle details contained in these type of films, right down to the French bread in the grocery bag. If you’re not that familiar, and you should be ashamed of yourself, it’s a primer of what to expect if you actually plan on watching tons of mainstream movies involving cops, robbers, guns, crime bosses, and all the things that go into badly-made cinema.

Director Dallas Jenkins and writer Michael Patwin are brave to delve into territory like this because with how well they have everything pegged, it shows that they either have years of experience in watching these movies or sat down at one time and went through every film until the clichés started becoming noticeable. However, it’s one fast and funny look into what we’ve become far too familiar with. The main cop, Jack Lichec, plans to avenge his partner’s death, a partner that’s known as “Tee”, but is listed in the credits as “Token Black”, along with that name. He tracks down the crime boss, whose hideout is conveniently located across the street from his apartment, while his soon-to-be-ex-wife-or-not, Mandy, helps him out with whatever he needs, while stating out of Jack’s earshot that she still loves him, despite the divorce papers that sit on the counter in his apartment. And the chief who gives our badass hero 24 hours to find the boss, can’t be forgotten either.

The only original elements of this production are the actors. Kirk B.R. Woller looks like a mix of Mel Gibson and Michael Chiklis of “The Shield”, while Karl Calhoun, Jack’s partner, looks like a cross between D.B. Woodside of “24” and “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and Don Cheadle. This is good material through and through and while it starts to wear down towards the end, director Jenkins knows exactly when to pull the plug. Hollywood may be quite shallow when it comes to the movies that are made over and over again, but having “Cliché” collect the obvious and put it together is ingenious.

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