Stephanie Plum has been in eighteen of Janet Evanovich’s novels, and her character is a bounty hunter with a spunky-detective style and a no-holds-barred determination that has its harder edge. Her film version, played by Katherine Heigl, finds the spunky side, but fails to capitalize on the absolute brutality of Plum’s profession. And unfortunately, most of the sexiness of her character is lost on a listless camaraderie with her male co-leads.
Jason O’Mara plays Joe Morelli, the one-time bedmate of Plum’s as well as a vice cop now on the run. It’s up to Plum to track him down, since she took a job working for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bond service. Ranger (Daniel Sanjata) is the tougher, yet likeable, bounty hunter who takes Plum under his wing as she starts out, but there’s rarely anything to see there. While Evanovich’s books are sexy (to the extreme, at times), the movie fails to capitalize there, even with Heigl at the wheel.
The movie does pursue the detective string of the story: Heigl’s Plum sets out to capture Morelli, but she finds that he might’ve been framed. Her quest to find the truth takes her into an MMA training gym run by Jimmy Alpha (John Leguizamo), where a potential suspect in the framing works out. There are a few “gotcha” moments, but not many.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t end up being as awesome as it should’ve been. It’s Spenser For Hire material with a female lead, but Heigl and her co-stars just don’t mesh, and the dialogue often seems stripped from the book, rather than adapted from it. Sure, Plum learns a thing or two about being a bondswoman, and she seems to find love (or at least like) by the end of the movie. But there’s little character development, and we’re left with a fluffy but unspectacular adaptation.
Which probably means that if you haven’t read the book but you do love Heigl, you’ll enjoy it more. And it beats watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy, right?