Fasten your seatbelts.
Clint Eastwood is the quintessential cop. Charlie Sheen is the quintessential…um, Sheen brother. The Rookie is yet another movie featuring Clint as a detective on the edge who's out to avenge his deceased partner. Or maybe I'm thinking of Lethal Weapon. Anyhow, it doesn't matter—The Rookie (not to be confused with the Dennis Quaid baseball sap fest of the same name) is now on DVD care of Warner Home Entertainment, and there ain't a damn thing you can do about it, punk.
Facts of the Case
You don't want to mess with LAPD's Nick Pulovski (Eastwood). Even worse is the trouble you'll encounter when you gun down his partner. After a sting operation goes horribly awry, Pulovski is assigned a new partner, rookie David Ackerman (Sheen). Though the two aren't happy together, they find themselves in the middle of a case involving auto thieves led by the murderous Strom (Raul Julia, Presumed Innocent) and his exotic but deadly henchwoman (Sonja Braga, Angel Eyes). Both men have a few personal issues they need to pan out: David saw his brother killed as a child and blames himself for his death while Nick…well, Nick's just a cranky SOB who enjoys smoking cigars. But the two will have to put aside their differences to catch Strom and his gang of thugs before—sigh, here it comes, yet again—it's too late.
After watching The Rookie, I've come upon a single inescapable truth: director Cline Eastwood needs a better editor. In director William Friedkin's action thriller The Hunted, the director talks at length on the commentary track about action movies often being bloated and too long. The Rookie might be considered a exhibit A: the movie drags its heels like a $10 dollar hooker doped up on crack.
What we've got here is yet another variation on the buddy cop theme. Eastwood plays yet another grizzled detective paired up with yet another hotshot rookie (played with straight-faced boredom by Sheen) after his partner is killed in the line of duty. By 1990 you'd have thought Eastwood would have moved onto greener pastures—hasn't he already played a variation on this role dozens of times before? Eastwood's Pulovski could just as well be an alternate version of "Dirty" Harry Callahan. Eastwood sleepwalks through most of this performance—squinting eyes, angry catch phrases ("There's gotta be a hindered reasons why I don't blow you away. Right now I can't think of one."), and lots of agitated grumbling. Sheen plays his character with only two emotions: A.) I'm really, really angry and B.) I'm really, really frustrated. At one point I think I saw something in the way of exasperation in Sheen's demeanor, but I think it was just a facial tick that got out of hand.
This leaves us with two things: the action sequences and the bad guys. Movies like The Rookie require villains who can chew the scenery with the greatest of ease. This time we're handed the late Raul Julia as a crime boss who sweats a lot. He's completed by Romanian bombshell Sonia Braga as a sexual vixen who enjoys having sex with a hogtied Eastwood while brandishing a semi-automatic. I had the feeling that this was the type of woman who'd blow the head of a waiter if her steak was under cooked.
Keeping in mind that this is 1990 and computer effects were at an all time low, The Rookie includes a few fun action sequences. Eastwood stages a great car chase between himself and a big rig carrying expensive automobiles. At one point, a henchman starts hurtling cars towards Eastwood, creating only a slightly worse L.A. traffic jam than on a Tuesday afternoon rush hour. Another sequence, involving Sheen and Eastwood flying out of an exploding building in a pricy convertible, shows why CGI has no hold over good old-fashioned stunt men and pyrotechnics.
Is The Rookie any good? I guess, in a very "been there, seen that" sort of way. Eastwood injects the film with a bit of good-natured humor and the action scenes entertain. That doesn't make up for its over two hour running time, but it sure does help.
The Rookie is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner is a studio known for fine transfers, and this one is no exception—the colors are bright with black levels evenly solid. I didn't notice much in the way of imperfections. There is a small amount of dirt in the image, as well as a few edge halos, though overall this is a fine looking print. Shadow detail is well rendered and the picture retains a crisp, clean look. Eastwood fans should be pleased with the way this transfer turned out.
The soundtrack is presented in a newly remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix in English. I wasn't overly impressed with this soundtrack—most of the mix is front heavy with only a few instances of directional effects/surround sounds showing up in the rear speakers. The biggest boost is longtime Eastwood collaborator Lennie Niehaus' music score. Otherwise, expect for a few explosions and gunfire, this is a subdued track. All aspects of the mix are free of any distortion or hiss. Also included on this disc are English, French and Spanish subtitles, as well as a Dolby 2.0 Stereo track in French.
There isn't much in the way of extra features: all that's included on this disc is a theatrical trailer for the film and a few highlights from Eastwood's film career.
I wouldn't consider The Rookie to be one of Eastwood's top ten films. Had about a half hour been trimmed from it, The Rookie may have been a slam-bang action flick. As it stands it has some well executed action sequences, Eastwood being Eastwood, and no sign of Heidi Fleiss.
The Rookie is found guilty of being a half hour too long. The film is sentenced to watch National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 in the local rehabilitation center.
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