From the earliest moments of the film, CHiPs sets to work delivering the snappy, light-hearted laughs it promises. A Maverick FBI agent undercover as a California Highway Patrol officer, partnered with the station’s oldest-ever rookie with a failing marriage and a sensitive side, is tasked with uncovering a ring of dirty cops connected to a string of deaths and heists.
Very much of its genre, CHiPs is a buddy cop movie, and offers little to entice those not partial to the somewhat cookie-cutter plots and dynamic. A number or gags and punchlines are predictable, but executed with cheek and are enjoyable all the same. The actors’ performances are uniformly excellent, carrying even the darker moments with an energy that prevents the film from losing its bouncy pace. The banter between Michael Peña’s Frank “Ponch” Poncherello and Dax Shephard’s Jon Baker is carried off wonderfully, varying between rapid-fire squabbling and supportive quips.
Sharp editing and elegant sound design make the film a pleasure to watch, though it fails to distract from the often gratuitous material lacing it. Eager to display gratuitous and lingering shots to sexualise the majority of female characters are compounded by graphic representations of deaths and injuries in gory detail. To the movie’s credit, however, and that of Shepard’s direction, the somewhat disturbing content is framed and handled in such a way that doesn’t shatter the carefully cultivated, fun-loving atmosphere.
Emotionally satisfying with neat plot tie-ins and decent action sequences enhance the film, but fall short of making it something truly remarkable. If you’re looking for some relaxed laughs and a pleasant-enough movie, CHiPs is definitely worth a watch, but admittedly, viewers with a thirst for hard-hitting drama or mystery (or simply a weaker stomach) may find themselves somewhat unsatisfied with the film.