Los Angeles is home to America’s largest port (by volume) and plenty of corrupt politicians. That makes it a perfect hub for art smuggling. Nic O’Connell and Ping Liu start to suspect the murder of their private investigator grandfathers was related to the case of a stolen Chinese artifact, but to bring the killers to justice, the estranged former besties must work together in Presley Paras’ Bad Detectives (a.k.a. Year of the Detectives), which releases today on VOD.
Despite their affection for their grandfathers Liu and O’Connell are not exactly Miss Scarlet. They are not trained sleuths and they certainly aren’t licensed. However, they can still tell there is something fishy about the accident that killed their grandpas and all attempts from the lazy investigating cops to discourage them have the opposite effect. However, they are still largely spit-balling until the corrupt local assemblyman’s chief-of-staff gives them some direction.
If it weren’t so hard to write clever mysteries, we’d all be Agatha Christie, but we’re not. Screenwriter Chris Johnson certainly isn’t either. The actual murder cases in Bad Detectives are pretty simple, yet the narrative is still rather raggedy. However, what works are the chemistry and relationship dynamics of the two granddaughter-detectives.
Dralla Aierken and Freya Tingley play-off each other well are create distinctive personas as the straight-laced professional Liu and O’Connell, a recently discharged veteran with anger issues. They click together on-screen and it is also fun to watch them interact with their grandfathers’ crusty old employees, even though they only seem to show up to drink tea and booze when the bad guys are safely gone.
Bad Detectives would probably better translate to a series television treatment. The characters wear well over time, but anyone looking for gritty hardboiled gumshoe twists is likely to be disappointed. However, it definitely deserves credit for ending with a Third Man reference.
Bad Detectives needed either more edge or even greater focus on Liu and O’Connell’s history together and with their grandfathers. Nevertheless, as it stands, it is a pleasant film that is impossible to dislike. Recommended as a low-stress indie streamer, Bad Detectives releases today (6/22) on VOD platforms.