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Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 10.53%
Just Average: 10.53%
Pretty Crappy: 10.53%

1 review, 13 user ratings

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Rookie, The (1990)
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by Jack Sommersby

"Eastwood/Sheen = Oil/Water"
1 stars

Nobody's even trying here, so please forgive us, the brutalized audience, for not putting too much in the way of effort into sticking with this soggy suckotash.

Clint Eastwood has made some considerable stinkers in the past (The Eiger Sanction, Every Which Way But Loose), but one would be hard-pressed at singling one out that's as agonizing and punishing to sit through as The Rookie. Usually an Eastwood-directed picture has some redeeming qualities, but this irredeemable atrocity offers up nothing but one poorly-shaped scene after another, along with bare-bones characters, anemic plotting, idiot dialogue, atrocious acting, and stunning obviousness from start to finish. The main problem here isn't necessarily that The Rookie is hardcore contrivance-laden, but that Eastwood hasn't had the good sense to put any spin on the vast assortment of cliches: he treats each and every one as if they were untouchables, non-negotiable necessities that no decent cop-buddy tale could possibly exist without; he embraces them like an insecure Linus does his inseparable blanket. Ultra-tired stuff like cops and doughnuts, cops and messy apartments, cops and unpaid bills, cops and loudmouth captains were hilariously sent up in The Naked Gun, so it's more than a wee bit embarrassing for Eastwood to be playing this stuff straight all over again. Especially disheartening is just two months prior he scored a major triumph both as a director and an actor in his bold, brilliant White Hunter, Black Heart, one of the year's very best films and one of the very best films about filmmaking to grace the silver screen; a thinly-veiled account of legendary director John Huston's tumultuous making of the 1951 classic The African Queen, it functioned as a robust adventure and acute psychological character study of a man's dark obsession that he couldn't logically explain but was nevertheless engulfed by on a path to self-destruction. And the year before that was even the flawed but engaging Pink Cadillac, where Eastwood atypically attempted broad comedy with a series of humorous disguises, and brought it off surprisingly well. (He had a particularly inspired bit as a loudly-dressed Reno lounge lizard saying into a mirror, "If my life were a movie, there'd be a sign on it saying, 'Caution: Some scenes too intense for younger viewers!'" that completely had me in stitches.)

In The Rookie, the title character is introduced in the puerile person of stiff, humorless David Ackerman (Charlie Sheen), who's only been on the Los Angeles police force two years yet is promoted to plainclothes in the Grand Theft Auto division. With a wealthy father and a pained conscience arising from his believing he was responsible for his younger brother's death while playing on a rooftop (and, boy, do these wafer-thin elements ever get a winsome workout throughout!), when asked why he became a police officer by the board, he replies, "I want to help people"; and already we know we're in for the long haul because Sheen, probably one of the least surprising actors out there, delivers the line in exactly the manner countless other movie cops have delivered it. (Couldn't he have been directed to deliver it with some irony, like David knew it was a well-worn line from cop movies but is too limited to come up with something better?) Perfectly complimenting this odiousness is Eastwood's cranky veteran Nick Pulovski, who's just lost his partner to vicious German car-thief mastermind Strom (Raul Julia); David is assigned to him, naturally, and, naturally, they initially have a strong disliking for one another. David hates Nick's brazenness and lack of respect for authority and disregard of proper procedure...and Nick can't stand David's business-suit wardrobe and his liking of Krispy Kreme goodies with unmanly sprinkles on top...and David berates Nick for his whiskey breath and smelling up the car with his cigars and calling him "kid"...and Nick doesn't like the idea of some rich-kid-playing-cop watching his back and him not being afforded the proper respect...and we the audience are shell-shocked at so many facile familiarities being spewed upon us and played absolutely straight without a whisper of parodistic air. (Oh, and Nick is always patting his pockets looking for a light, so we know right after he makes his way out of a crashed vehicle with a crushed stogie in his mouth he'll still find the effort to ask for a light before collapsing. What a laugh riot.)

Yes, there are a lot of auto chases to be taken in (in fact, the credits list more stunt people than actors), but Eastwood hasn't staged these soulless crash-'em-ups with much in the way of finesse -- you might as well be watching B-roll of The Blues Brothers. And when we get a foot chase at the end, the spatial logistics are loosely adhered to so it's not a lot of fun keeping track of where the villains are in relation to the heroes -- William Friedkin managed a better chase through an airport in a mere ninety seconds in To Live and Die in L.A. than Eastwood manages in one for nine long minutes. The subplots involving David and his emotionally-cold father, and David and his live-in girlfriend are flat filler material. The dialogue is either howlingly bad (when Strom asks Nick why he thought he could defeat him, the grizzled cop replies, "Well, it's just the arrogant fuckin' Kraut like you was in the firing line" Huh?) or horridly square ("There's gotta be a hundred reasons why I don't blow you away. Right now I can't think of one"). David's sudden transformation from a wanton to a super cop comes right on convenient-to-the-plot schedule. The casting of the Hispanic Raul Julia as a German has to be seen and heard to be believed -- this game, dark-skinned actor, who was broad and funny as the villain in Tequila Sunrise and who is merely broad here, can't generate any interest with his pseudo accent tripping him up at every turn. The acting is just about beneath comment: Pepe Serna and Hal Williams, as Nick's superiors, can't deliver lines to save their lives; Sheen (who actually had some understated force as an auto-thief ringleader in the fine No Man's Land) is nothing but stale, standardized mediocrity; and even Eastwood's bad -- he never sinks inside the character and seems to be attempting to give the dialogue some self-aware wit that's never achieved. Luckily, there's a scene late in the game where a captured Nick is slowly seduced by Strom's trigger-happy henchwoman, played by the Brazilian beauty Sonia Braga. She first slices his forehead with a razor blade then seductively rides him as he's tied to a chair, and it's got a naughty little kick that gives the movie some temporary life. Surely this was the idea of co-writer Scott Spiegel, who helped with the Sam Raimi cult favorite Evil Dead 2. If only he'd been allowed to lend The Rookie more of this panache, it could've been a contender rather than a calamity.

It's a good thing the DVD sports a decent anamorphic transfer, for the movie has been too darkly lit, as if Eastwood's regular cinematographer Jack N. Green were going for the ultimate in shadowy film-noir. Quite the inappropriate visual treatment for this kind of flabby nonsense.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1372&reviewer=327
originally posted: 12/02/11 19:15:31
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User Comments

12/03/11 Jeff Wilder It's an embarassment for all involved. 1 stars
5/18/06 mr.mike nothing you havent seen before , but not bad 3 stars
6/10/05 Captain Craig I agree with Mr. Pink. It`s an embarrasment all around 1 stars
6/15/04 John it's quite an accomplishment to make such a lifeless cop movie with Clint Eastwood! 1 stars
5/16/03 mr. Pink Everyone involved in this should be embarrassed forever for lending themselves to this shit 1 stars
3/02/03 Jack Sommersby I love Eastwood, but this sucker sucks! 1 stars
8/08/01 Mr. Hat Not NEARLY as good as it looks. 2 stars
11/27/00 Cristopher Revilla the action scenes were good, but the rest wasn't that good 3 stars
5/19/00 tank Unjustly maligned. Like every other Hollywood action film is close to plausible. 4 stars
5/17/00 Add Sure its aload of bullshit but its fun. Have u ever heard so many one liners? 4 stars
7/09/99 Ben Leostein Rating: * (out of ****) Category: "Below Average" 2 stars
1/03/99 Fartass blows 1 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink "It's a fuckin'adventure!" according to Sheen. I didn't think so.... 1 stars
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  07-Dec-1990 (R)


  02-Feb-1991 (M)

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