When he made this film, Clint Eastwood had worked with Warner Bros. for 21 years as an actor and director. Over the years, an unwritten deal had developed between the actor and the studio--in return for starring in a commercial vehicle for Warner Bros., he would have the chance to direct a
more "personal" film. In 1988, he resurrected his "Dirty Harry" character in THE DEAD POOL so that he was allowed to direct BIRD, the biography of Charlie Parker. In 1990, he directed and starred in the noncommercial WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART, and THE ROOKIE was his payback. It features Charlie
Sheen as David Ackerman, a recently promoted plain-clothes detective who's lugging around a lot of emotional baggage. He's estranged from his wealthy father (Tom Skerritt) because of his career choice and he's having troubles with his live-in girl friend (Lara-Flynn Boyle of TV's "Twin Peaks").
David's most upsetting trauma, however, is a result of the accidental death of his brother, an accident for which David was responsible. David has chosen to work in the auto theft division, believing it offers a chance for quick promotion, and ends up as a partner to Nick Pulovski (Eastwood), a
former auto race driver who is now a grizzled, mean-spirited veteran cop. The two couldn't be more dissimilar--David always keeps his emotions in check while the hard-drinking Nick can explode at the least provocation. For their first assignment, David and Nick must team to break up a massive auto
theft operation run by Strom (Raul Julia) and his partner Liesel (Sonia Braga). Coincidentally, Strom just happens to be the man who murdered Nick's former partner, and Nick is determined to bring him down. As the policemen stake out their quarry, their hatred for one another slowly dissipates and
David begins to see he can learn something about police work from Nick. When Nick is kidnapped by the gang, David has to rescue him and he relies heavily on the crude techniques taught to him by his partner, ripping Los Angeles apart in the process. Meanwhile, Nick is being held in a warehouse
where he is brutalized by Strom and Liesel. The villains are able to get away when David arrives on the scene, then the cops must make a harrowing escape as the warehouse explodes around them. A team again, Nick and David head out on a final violent quest for their quarry.
There is little that is new in THE ROOKIE as the tired formula old cop/young cop story has been done countless times. This is a Clint Eastwood film, however, and the quality of the filmmaking is extremely high. In fact, this is Eastwood's most elaborately staged and spectacularly executed film,
surpassing THE GAUNTLET on both counts. It is jammed with explosive stunts, wild chases, and powerful pyrotechnics. Eastwood is known for the unusually small scale of his action pictures, but THE ROOKIE (though it was made for a relatively small amount of money) is a frantic departure. The film
opens with a spectacular chase scene in which Eastwood pursues a car transporter truck as luxury sports cars are set careening across a crowded freeway. It climaxes with the staggering collision of two airplanes. Those scenes make it seem as though Eastwood was making a blatant attempt at being
commercial. The film also contains one of the most expensive "cheap" jokes in film history. The scene involving the exploding warehouse contains a very funny line--it's a sight gag of phenomenal proportion. The film is, in fact, filled with a lot of humor, particularly in the dialog which features
numerous crude one-liners and weird references to other films.
The performances are all topnotch. Julia, inexplicably playing a German, has fun with his ever-changing accent, and Braga is both scary and sexy as his partner. The scene in which she sexually violates Eastwood (a scene that is certain to offend some) is the strangest scene in an Eastwood film
since he was oiled up and handcuffed in 1984's TIGHTROPE. Sheen gives his best performance since PLATOON, expertly playing off of Eastwood and nicely handling the physically demanding scenes. But it's Eastwood's movie all the way and his Nick Pulovski is a great character, filled with flaws and
hidden desires. As a result, the film works as a character study exploring many of the themes of the director's previous efforts. The only glaring problem with the film is its questionable moral stance. The film offers some disturbingly misogynist elements as well as a healthy dose of crushing
violence. Still, those quibbles aside, this is a fun movie and a must-see for Eastwood fans. (Extreme violence, profanity, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: When he made this film, Clint Eastwood had worked with Warner Bros. for 21 years as an actor and director. Over the years, an unwritten deal had developed between the actor and the studio--in return for starring in a commercial vehicle for Warner Bros., he… (more)