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Nash Bridges Review

November 28, 2021 | Posted by Lee Sanders
6.5
The 411 Rating
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Nash Bridges Review  

*WARNING! THE FOLLOWING REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!*

Sadness. That is how I felt when the Nash Bridges TV series came to an unsatisfying end in 2001. The sixth and final season maintained decent ratings despite losing to NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It turns out that Paramount, which produced Nash Bridges, felt the production cost of $2 million per episode (in that era it was extremely expensive) was too much. CBS actually wanted another season of Nash Bridges but it fell through because Paramount wasn’t willing to cover production costs. This came despite Viacom owning CBS and Paramount at the time.

Despite the bad timing, Nash Bridges star Don Johnson was ready to move on to other projects. The series I felt was very light-hearted, not gory or full of foul-mouthed profanity. It also did not glorify and make a spectacle out of people dying all while being serious with perfect comedic timing. For over twenty years the series has been in syndication and gets decent numbers. You can always find it on TV depending on your service provider. The chemistry between Don Johnson and Cheech Marin is pure gold at the centerpiece of a big ball of confusion. Within that confusion, Nash Bridges (Johnson) and Joe Dominguez (Marin) try to make sense out of the confusion with a great supporting cast. It was an excellent formula from 1996-2001 as that same formula worked again in 2021 with this new Nash Bridges movie but with serious hiccups.

We see Nash this go-round struggling much like with Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in The Enforcer, struggling with adapting to the times. This 21st century has become very reliant on gadgets and state-of-the-art technology and abandoned old fashioned investigating by brains, feet, and hands. Nash is also finding himself trying to adapt to being a Boomer in this millennial era of policing. This revival movie finds Johnson’s Nash Bridges being suspended from the force (as it turns out later this was by design from corrupt characters in play) as we spring-forward a year later to him being reactivated to solve a crime.

We have seen TV shows and movies like this before that are executed decently, but Nash Bridges struggles because it is cramming so much into a two-hour movie. The end result will put a smile on hardcore Bridges fans, but some or many may feel it is really behind on the times in our current culture. Sure, it is exciting to see the great blend of conflict and comedy about boomers and millennials. It is exciting to see Bridges give the up-and-coming officers under him a reality check in getting down and dirty with investigating, all while mixed with the nostalgia in dealing with an older and wiser Nash Bridges. Watching Bridges try to take down yet again an old foe who is into sex-trafficking teenage girls, while also trying to stop and an underground illegal fight club, is a decent formula.

A big elephant or two left untouched in this movie is defunding of police. This is something that has been a hot topic of discussion not just in the world of politics, but also in many communities and households. An opportunity was missed here to explore this angle as corruption among officers who abuse their badge when dealing with people of color and other minorities, continue to rise. I was quite surprised that with the one African American male actor (Paul James as Keith Morton) or even Black actress Diarra Kilpatrick (as Lena Harris who is Bridge’s superior), did not have an intimate moment in this movie where Nash is talking to them one and one. Just a simple question of asking them how they’re holding up as the world is currently a little crazy and dark. That simple nod would be more than enough for viewers, but we never got that moment. Part of me was hoping Nash would say when the topic of his daughter came up, that she left the police force all together because of these bullet points I described. Instead, it was glanced over as if everything is peaches and cream and these problems do not exist.

Besides Johnson and Marin’s stellar performances, of the new cast members I found myself caught up in wanting to learn more of Ellie Tang (portrayed by Angela Ko) who comes off smart, strong, and with a touch of tomboy sass. Alexia Garcia as Chloe Zane opens a whole new world worth exploration with her being a transgender officer. The pain and heartache the character must have gone through while being ridiculed, and her perseverance is teased greatly in Garcia’s portrayal worthy of revisiting and exploration. Garcia, with little screen time, deliveres a memorable performance. Rounding off the new and young cast, Diarra Kilpatrick as Lena Harris will leave you wondering how much pressure she is under, being Black and a female responsible for so many people while pleasing her superiors. She comes off as somewhat on a similar path to that of Danielle Moné Truitt’s NYPD Sergeant Ayanna Bell on NBC’s crime drama Law & Order: Organized Crime.

At the same time this movie in part felt like a big check-off for pleasing everybody while not having uncomfortable discussions. Great we have two Black actors, we have an Asian, the Asian and the Black are an interracial couple. This Black woman here has this connection to the main character through his daughter and is his superior. Check, check and check. Young vs Old? Check and check! A transgender officer? Check! Subpar plot that is predictable, but you are there for the nostalgia? Check and check!

I personally would have loved to see the areas I mentioned tackled while also revisiting how Nash has held up with the loss of his father due to dementia. In addition, how Nash has truly been coping with his only child not following in his footsteps. Why is it Nash continues to be alone all these years later and is that reason he has continued being a cop because it is the only thing that has been consistent for him? If they would have gone in this direction while somewhat borrowing a page from Law & Order: Criminal Intent’s Detective Goren in the final season, it would have made a far interesting arc on top of the two investigations Nash tackled.

For what this movie was worth, you’ll have a few smiles and laughs. It’s a nice escape from reality as you feel you’re revisiting a pair of lost friends or uncles in Bridges and Dominguez. That is really just it though as it is not the full and true reunion of cast members you would expect. This will all sink in after you see Don Johnson and Cheech Marin ride off into the sunset in that pretty hot-yellow Plymouth Hemi Cuda as the end credits appear to end this movie.

“Opportunities lost are just opportunities lost. Do I feel like that there’s stuff that we can mine out of some of the other original characters and out of bringing some of the people back that I had on in the first place? Yeah, I do. And I’ve got some wonderful ideas,” Johnson has said. “In this day and age, I can do them any way I want; I can set it up as a four-part miniseries that has close-ended episodes within the hour, but the miniseries has a runner in it that takes us through four episodes. It’s so freeing, and it gives me such a broad palette and canvas to work with.”

Keeping these words from Don Johnson in mind, I really hope if given the “opportunities” he explores some or all these options. It is their hopes that the movie released will serve as a backdoor pilot to a series revival. For me it is off to a shaky start, but I am willing to invest if we can approach some serious topics of discussion. And also, how about the return of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as Inspector Jake Cage? I would love to see what that man is up to these days. Honestly surprised that with Steve Austin’s Straight Up Steve Austin on USA Network that USA executives did not try to make a pitch for Steve Austin to be involved in this movie. Now how about that? Opportunities lost are indeed opportunities lost Don…

6.5
The final score: review Average
The 411
Nash Bridges is left to a rocky start as there are sadly more questions then answers for fans. It's a decent effort when said and done, but it needs some touchups going forward. This re-introduction is a slow burner with all the marbles in high viewership for its live-run, encore and DVR plays in hopes of a series revival. Columbo, Perry Mason, (Incredible Hulk under Bill Bixby), even Rockford Files operated in better fashion with their one-off movies. Assuming more movies or one-hour specials will be on the horizon, I'm giving this rating as a placeholder. I'm hoping that with the points I mentioned earlier we will see further and better development with the Nash Bridges character. When you get down to the core, Don Johnson is a helluva actor with great range and this would be a great opportunity to explore that range. Put it all out there on the line as if there isn't going to be another one and feel great about it without regrets. The diehard fans deserved better than this and hopefully they'll be rewarded. More returns of some of our favorites from the original series would greatly be appreciated. For me personally I've always had a soft spot for Annette O'Toole as she's easy on the eyes and has great chemistry with Don Johnson. And again more Stone Cold for sure! What did you think of the Nash Bridges movie? Would you be game for a series revival? Sound off!
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Nash Bridges, Lee Sanders