Review: The Return of NASH BRIDGES is a Raucous Good Time

By: Anthony Francis

“Nash Bridges” was popular show on the USA network that aired from 1996 to 2001. 

Don Johnson and Cheech Marin played San Francisco cops who bucked the rules and had bickering “fun” along the way. Their roles were perfect fits for the talents and personalities of the two stars, and the show was a good blend of tough and lite and existed as an entertaining throwback to the popular buddy cop genre of the 1980s.

As is the new way in today’s Hollywood, studios are dodging the remake moniker by digging into old films and television shows by producing modern “continuations”. 

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With the new tv film, also titled “Nash Bridges”, the twenty-plus-year-old show gets its comeback.

Nash Bridges (Johnson) and Joe Dominguez (Marin) are back for, as Bridges calls it, “one last adventure with the dream team.”

The film begins by taking a cue from the slam-bang opening of “Lethal Weapon 2”, as the audience is thrust into a high-speed chase involving our two stars. The chase is exciting and non-stop as the engines rev and the two leads bicker. Nash and Joe are in pursuit a billionaire pedophile and accidentally blow up a city block to get their man, earning them a two-week suspension. Nash takes his particular suspension as a betrayal and the film moves to one year later where he is a bounty hunter and Joe (on the show he was always looking for a “get rich quick” opportunity) is the successful owner of a pot dispensary.

As bodies start falling all over the San Francisco Bay area, the police discover that they have a serial killer on their hands. Stuck with no leads, Captain Lena Harris (who rose through the ranks with Nash’s daughter Cassidy) turns to the only man who can get the job done. 

The rest of the plot building takes the lead from every cop movie that came before it, right down to a predictable side character such as Steven Colton (Joe Dinicol) is the young detective who is supposed to be Nash and Joe’s point man but, as expected, he is a modern day dweeb who plays by the rules and cannot stand the reckless abandon in which Nash and Joe go about their jobs.

Detective Ellie (Angela Ko), her boyfriend/partner Keith (Paul James), and Chloe (Alexia Garcia), the SFPD’s first transgender cop and the niece of Nash’s old colleague “No-Neck” Nick complete the supporting cast. 

Every single moment in this action comedy is wrapped in ridiculous cliche (there is even an underground death game where rich people bet one who will survive), but, for this film, said cliches do not take away from the entertainment quality. “Nash Bridges” is pure fun.

Written by Bill Chais, this is a screenplay we have seen hundreds of times before. The film is full of dialogue born from cop films past. Lines such as “Times have changed and passed you by.”, “You’re a dinosaur.”, and “He’s a loose cannon.” are overly familiar, but again, they work here.  

If the film has a major demerit, it is in the villains. The bad guys aren’t very interesting, and it hurts what little plot exists. 

The good news is that the film is still a good time, thanks to the purposefully easygoing direction by Greg Beeman and the undeniable chemistry and screen presence of Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. 

Johnson has always been an extremely good actor who gets continually better with age. The actor climbs back into his old character with effortless ease. Johnson’s presence is lite and breezy and tough when he needs to be. The gravitas of the actor finds a good symmetry with the character. 

Equally fun to watch is Cheech Marin. Joe was always the wisecracker with a slightly more level head than his partner and he hasn’t changed. Marin’s natural humor is evident in every moment he is on screen. 

The film’s action is wild but a tad cartoonish and the references to Nash and Joe trying to fit in the modern world are bland, but Johnson and Marin grab on to the film’s tone and glide the audience through with a wink and a smile. 

“Nash Bridges” is nothing more than a one-off nostalgia jag. Sure, the film plays like an extended episode of the show, but for fans of the original (and especially fans of Don Johnson and Cheech Marin) this is a raucous good time. I found myself smiling all the way through. 

If one gives it a chance, a good time is to be had. Count on it, Bubba.

About The Author Anthony Francis: A long-time film connoisseur and son to a father who ran a movie theater, Anthony Francis rightfully grew up to be a journalist, filmmaker, writer, and film reviewer. His latest reviews/interviews/articles can be found at screencomment.com

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