Friday 9 March 2012

Movie Review: The Rookie (1990)

A routine police actioner stuck in the 1970s, The Rookie is not Clint Eastwood's finest moment. Overflowing with cliches, mindless chases, posturing, and hissing through clenched teeth, The Rookie would have been condemned by Inspector Harry Callahan and shot full of holes for lacking any style or originality.

Cigar chomping veteran police Sergeant Nick Pulovski (Eastwood) is on the trail of a violent gang of high-end car thieves, masterminded by the brutally cold Strom (Raul Julia) and the simply crazed Liesl (Sonia Braga). Pulovski's partner is killed by Strom, and young rookie officer David Ackerman (Charlie Sheen) is assigned as his new sidekick. Ackerman has issues of his own, including feeling guilty and responsible for his brother's accidental death when they were both kids, and a strained relationship with his tycoon dad Eugene (Tom Skerritt). Ackerman regularly disrupts the sleep of his wife Sarah (Lara Flynn Boyle) by waking up in the kind of cold sweat seen only in desperate movies.

The search for Strom takes Pulovski and Ackerman on a tour of all the usual hangouts, including the prototypical biker bar. Ackerman gets a beating and a shooting before finally deciding that enough is enough: he finds his inner Rambo and goes on a destructive rampage to clean up the streets, including saving Pulovski but only after he experiences the lusty thigh grip of Liesl in a woman on man rape scene.

Although there is enough talent in on the screen and behind the camera to prevent a total flop, neither Eastwood the director nor Eastwood the actor get any kind of traction, both tripped up by a doomed insistence on recreating a Dirty Harry vibe. It's 15 years past the best-before date, and the script offers nothing to modernize the concept. Many one-liners are thrown at the screen, all hoping for immortality, none coming close although a couple do manage some zing.

The Rookie fails to bother with even the most rudimentary back story for Pulovski, and offers nothing to explain the actions of Strom and Liesl. Raul Julia and Sonia Braga are left to ooze overcooked evil oil through smarmy smiles and depraved eyes, but for no understandable cause. The guilt trip and father issues provided for Ackerman are straight out of the stereotype catalogue, ordered past midnight by very tired minds surrendering to devoid creativity.

Unfortunately in this case, The Rookie is a good description for the amateurish actions of a veteran who should have known better.

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