Sunday, 7 December 2008
THE ROOKIE (1990)
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Boaz Yakin & Scott Spiegel
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Charlie Sheen & Raul Julia
“It’s not just a job, it’s a fucking adventure.”
Unfairly bashed and dismissed Eastwood vehicle that is not only choc full of blazing action but is often hilarious and a great send up of the buddy formula action movie and Eastwood’s own tough guy onscreen image. This is Eastwood in action mode and just because he’s having a bit of fun here doesn’t mean the film is any less entertaining than any of his others. In fact, The Rookie is an underrated gem, hard hitting in the action department and featuring a cool laid back performance from the star/director as he gets the chance to crack a wry smile and not take himself so seriously.
The similarities to the Dirty Harry character/films is inevitable as Eastwood once again plays a grizzled cop who does things his way and causes much destruction (to both property and people) as he hunts down evil car theft kingpin Raul Julia. In tow, he has new detective Charlie Sheen who, as is the standard in such flicks, believes everything should be done by the book whereas Eastwood would rather shoot first and ask questions later. But, as is also the norm with such flicks, after some hostility the two begin to respect each other and Sheen adopts to the more tough talking way of police investigating which all leads to one of the best action flicks of the 90s.
Now there is no point in comparing The Rookie to other Eastwood classics such as Unforgiven as this is a completely different kind of film. One should never expect a filmmaker as prolific as Eastwood to always make the same film or always try to reach such lofty aspirations with every film. This is him in light entertainment mode and that is a-ok as films can provide just that: light entertainment. Eastwood also seems to be having a ball here, sending up his tough cop image, dishing out subtle and very funny one liners with aplomb and staging some exhilarating action sequences. Boaz Yakin & Scott Spiegel’s (he of Evil Dead 2) script sparks with quick fire wit, gags often running throughout the entire film and Eastwood getting to utter the classic line (upon seeing a lime green sports car) “Wanna know what a crime is? Whoever defaced that work of art by painting that colour…ought to have his ass removed.” He and Sheen share infectious chemistry, the humour more subtle and adult rather than being rammed own our throats say in the style of Bad Boys 2. Sheen is also on fine form as are the rest of the cast including the late great Raul Julia, Sonia Braga, Lara Flynn Boyle, Tom Skerrit and a who’s who of familiar faces that peppered 80s and 90s Hollywood action cinema.
Eastwood and stunt coordinator Terry Leonard stage some impressive action scenes including a multi car pile up that opens the film (which I’m pretty sure Bad Boys 2 nicked), the mother of all bar fights where Sheen goes ape shit on some local bikers, a great running chase/shootout in an airport and quite possibly the best escape from an exploding building ever seen in action cinema. The action comes from the golden era meaning there is no CGI, it all pretty much staged for real and the stars getting satisfyingly bloodied up and tired come the finale. Yeah, it’s often over the top in nature but that’s the fun of action pictures. It doesn’t have to be real to be thrilling and as long as it’s well staged what’s wrong with a couple of cops demolishing a freeway and an airport in order to catch the bad guys?
As with Eastwood’s earlier action picture The Gauntlet (another underrated gem) The Rookie is all about fun, lots of cool action and some refreshingly adult humour that will bring a smile to your face as you watch things blow up. This is not Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby or even the original Dirty Harry (all great films by the way) but probably Eastwood’s best straight action picture and an absolute hoot. And if you can’t enjoy it for the action packed fun it is, well then you ought to have your ass removed.