This article is a Benefit, offered via this Graboid With Benefits
piece. The correct guesser of the Graboid was Chewer, Rene (Mr. Eko), who correctly guessed that the following image:
was from the film, Commando. Rene’s requested Benefit was a Movie of the Day for The Rookie, so here it is.
You too can have a Graboid With Benefits prize, available at your nearest CHUD outlet, corner liquor store, porn house, or Scientology Recruitment Center.
Film: The Rookie (1990)
The Principals: Director: Clint Eastwood. Starring Clint Eastwood, Charlie Sheen, Raul Julia, Tom Skerritt, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sonia Braga, Xander Berkeley, Pepe Sema.
A cigar chain-smoking maverick Grand Theft Auto detective, Nick Pulovski (Eastwood), is doggedly on the case of a chop shop criminal mastermind, Strom (Julia), after he kills his partner. But just as he sets out to bring him to justice, Pulovski’s boss hamstrings him with a rookie partner, the straight-laced David Ackerman (Sheen). At first a clash of ideologies, the two cops eventually gel, with Ackerman picking up more than a few of his mentor’s bad habits along the way. And when Pulovski gets kidnapped for a ransom by Strom and his cold-blooded henchwoman, Liesel (Braga), Ackerman literally gets a baptism by fire as he breaks all of the rules in finding and rescuing his partner.
Is It Good: It’s a romp. Probably one of the last true ’80s-style buddy cop flicks where the heroes run roughshod all over their town and especially the criminals in their way. It’s populated by notable turns by Eastwood, Sheen, the excellent Julia and the deliciously evil Braga. In retrospect, it’s quite a shame that the film wasn’t well received and didn’t do great box office (thanks to that goddamned Home Alone flick), because Eastwood and Sheen were a natural fit together and a sequel or two would have been welcomed, by yours truly at least. The film is populated by a wicked sense of humor, irreverence and biting dialogue. It also has great practical action; especially a first act scene where some bad guys are dumping cars off of a carrier semi onto the 101 Freeway in order to effect their escape. There was also a climactic scene involving an escape from a building about to go boom in a big way in a flying sporty Benz; and ferchrissakes, two planes colliding? You kidding me?
Is It Worth A Look: You want some good, old school (jeez, how did 1990 become old school so quick?) buddy cop action movie, then certainly. Eastwood’s Pulovski is a sort of hybrid between Dirty Harry Callahan circa The Enforcer and Philo Beddoe. He chomps cigars like J. Jonah Jameson and chomps onto the Strom case like a pit bull. And Sheen does a convincing turn from the straight-shooting rookie to a shoot-first, shoot-last and fuck-all questions in-between on-the-job learning veteran.
This is back when Sheen was doing virtually any movie under the sun (he did 10 movies in the three years between 1987’s Wall Street and this film) and before he had a supposed “comeback” with Hot Shots! the following year. I’d argue that “comeback” is a load of garbage, because in the aforementioned span of Wall Street and The Rookie, Sheen also did Young Guns and Major League (of which I just re-watched significant parts and which still kicks virtually any other baseball movie’s ass all over the diamond). Not sure if Sheen was still heavy in the grip of his drug problems at that particular time, but there are scenes, like the bar beatdown and bonfire, where he seems like he was ready to jump through the screen and kick the audience’s asses while he was at it.
Eastwood directed this film and it’s a bit of a departure from him, considering that he specializes in generally heavier fare. It’s by no means his tightest directorial effort, but it just looks to me like he was having more fun on this film than in many others in which he’s acted and starred. For instance, he had the great Raul Julia and the saucy Sonia Braga, a Puerto Rican actor and Brazilian actress, portraying Germans. And Julia was sporting a muted accent that came across like Col. Klink on Valium. It comes off as an inside joke, the Aryan Hispanics, that the audience gets to be in on.
I also love that a Hispanic actor (and Julia was certainly far, far more than just that) portraying a bad guy had absolutely zero to do with drugs. These days and for a while now, that’s been more than a stereotype. It’s like Pulovski said on the news: “Well, that’s right, ma’am. I realize that homicides and splashy
robberies get most of the headlines, but it’s about time this crime
gets the attention it deserves. It’s impossible to make a real dent.
But it is possible to hurt individual assholes who fuck it up for
everyone. Now, I happen to know of a prick that’s responsible for the
whole fucking operation, and that son of bitch is hurting out there,
and I’m fucking liking it.” Likewise, Braga is a suitably masochistic and evil henchbitch (should have had her on my henchpersons list now that I think about it). It ain’t your average bloodthirsty female underling who takes the time to rape the hero.
The Rookie was written by Boaz Yakin, who penned the Dolph Lundgren Punisher flick the year before and Scott Spiegel (Evil Dead II) and is populated with plenty of good one-liners such as:
- “There’s gotta be a hundred reasons why I don’t blow you away. Right now I can’t think of one.”
- “It’s not just a job! It’s a fucking adventure!”
- “Wanna know what’s a crime? Whoever defaced that work of art by painting it that color… ought to have his ass removed.”
- “I’m going to blow that shit you call brains all over my partner here.”
- [Re: a tape of Pulovski’s rape]: “hey I was just starting to enjoy that!” “Pervert.”
- “It’s time for me to stop being scared, and other people to start.”
Look, The Rookie isn’t high-class action comedy. It’s actually rather low brow. It’s not as good as Lethal Weapon, but it’s light years beyond Cop Out, that’s for damn sure (actually, though, I hear paint peeling is as well). Wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Bay caught it before he did Bad Boys (or especially Bad Boys II).
Random Anecdotes: From IMDB: The film featured over twice as many stuntmen as it did actors. [It] held the world record for the biggest ratio of stuntmen/actors.
Cinematic Soulmates: The Enforcer, Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys II, Beverly Hills Cop II.