The "hero" of this crime movie is a foul-mouthed, beat-up, cigarette-always-hanging-out-of-the-mouth, booze-guzzling, bug-eating, cop-turned-low-life-P.I., played by Peter Weller. The character is supposedly redeemed by his basic honesty, feelings toward his wife, and rapport with the down-and-out.
Weller's character is estranged from his wife, played by Alexandra Paul in a couple of brief and shallow scenes. This is in part because as a cop he unwittingly set up a sting on her father concerning a savings-and-loan fraud, which appears to have led the man to hang himself. The wife owns a seedy-neighborhood Southern California bar and grill, which has some employees from south of the border.
The movie begins with a confusing and violent scene in Mexico, in which one man is shot in the head and the face of another (an employee of the bar and grill, I think) is crushed by hand by a tall, burly blonde henchman. When the thugs come looking for a letter that the employee might have sent back to the grill, Weller's wife meets the same fate.
At the bottom of it all is what turns out to be some weird organ harvesting scheme using illegal Mexican immigrants. Just about everyone in the movie seems to have been involved somehow in this ill-defined, gruesome plot. This includes: Stacy Keach, hamming it up as drawling rich guy Shelgrove, who lives in a mansion, owns a firing range that seems to double as a bar, and gives lengthy expositions on Mayan culture; Lori Singer, as the stereotypical breathy-voiced, brooding blonde knockout, at one moment politely business-like, at another a steamy seductress, and at the next cool-and-hard-as-nails, who apparently manages Shelgrove's shooting range and has sometime in the past been an organ recipient (though nothing about this character, or her relationship to anyone else, is made clear); John Rhys Davies as a wholly corrupt, abusive INS agent; a sweaty, neurotic surgeon; Weller's utterly ineffectual cop pal who courted his wife; and even Weller's deceased father-in-law, who took an interest in Mexican immigrants.
There is some mystery and detection, the cast includes some recognizable names, and Weller and Keach are passable. But no one is displayed to good effect. The characters, story, and settings are thin, murky, ugly, and uninvolving. As it unfolds, the story is choppy and obscure, not crisp and dramatic. Despite the grim subject matter, the movie has an incongruous tongue-in-cheek feel, for example, in how in how it presents Weller, Rhys Davis, Shelgrove, and the doctor.
Weller's uncanny ability, while mumbling and shambling along, to keep going through all the smoke, booze, bruises, bullets, complications, and adversaries to get to the bottom of it all is increasingly implausible. A prime example is the scene in which Weller, wounded, drugged senseless, and lying on the doctor's operating table (and why would the bad guys go through this trouble instead of just shooting or strangling him, as they do to everyone else?), pulls himself up, stumbles away, and fights the blonde muscle man to the death.
The movie's way of resolving everything is to kill off characters (good and bad) in one brutal manner or another, including, most wastefully, a female INS agent. Its overall ugliness seems to be done for cheap shock-effect rather than to convey any larger meaning, its style a substitute for telling a clear, full, and effective story. Some gratuitous nudity and tasteless "comic relief," thrown in for good measure, do not help.
Other reviews have rightly pegged Weller's character as a "stumblebum with a BB gun" and the movie as a "muddled tale of slobs and sex." This is a quirky but unpleasant, confusing, poorly developed, and unsatisfying movie.