Review: The Rookie

VHS cover scan courtesy of VHSWasteland.com

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Category: Badass Cinema

I had been wanting to revisit this one for quite some time, remembering a few badass sequences here and there and wondering if my memories held true. I remember this coming out when the "cop buddy" resurgence was in full swing thanks to Lethal Weapon and then it's massively successful sequel that came out a year before this did. What better time to cash in on the cop buddy movie craze right? One thing's clearly evident, there is and always will be a (pre) and (post) Unforgiven Eastwood filmography. (Pre) meaning that while he starred, directed and often times both starred "and" directed in movies up until the western masterpiece Unforgiven in 1993, none of them matched the immense style and talent on full display in that film and pretty much every film he directed after. In fact, it almost seems like he was reborn (metaphorically speaking of course) with Unforgiven because it's like someone else has sat behind the directors chair with almost all of his subsequent films. Hell, he's even won Oscars for directing since then for Christ's sake!  Yea I know, they haven't all been winners, but the ones that do stand out are the ones we'll always remember.

So yea, the guy's matured immensely as a visualist and stylish director and while The Rookie is fun and completely enjoyable, it doesn't fall under the (post) Eastwood style. But that's okay, because if you're in the mood for a cop buddy movie full of action, ridiculous situations and curse words galore, then this just might be for you.

I had a lot of fun with this one. It starts off with one helluva action sequence where detective Pulovski (Eastwood) and his partner engage a stolen car ring in progress. Pulovski's partner gets killed by the ringleader Strom (Raul Julia) and a car chase ensues with Pulovski in pursuit of a big rig hauling about a half dozen stolen sports cars, which the bad guys proceed to let loose from the rig while they are being chased by Pulovski. A pretty badass sequence to say the least and an awesome way to start the film. After the death of his partner, Pulovski is partnered up with rookie David Ackerman (Charlie Sheen), a rich kid who wants to do something more with his life than live off of daddy's money. Of course these two mismatched partners don't click (could there be any other kind of cop buddy flick?), and a lot of insults and name calling ensues, until Pulovski is kidnapped by Strom (Julia) and his crazy sidekick chick  Liesel (Sonia Braga) over the loss of his inventory thanks to Pulovkski's interference at the beginning of the film. He's demanding a two million dollar ransom to cover the loss and to pay back the people he works under. So it's up to The Rookie to save his new partner. Will he ask daddy for the ransom, or use what he's learned from his tough as nails and slightly demented partner to save the day?

Eastwood was awesome. Still buff in his old age and really good at playing an asshole. Even when his new partner has helped him out and saved his ass countless times, he never says thank you and still treats him like a piece of shit. Charlie Sheen was really great in this one too. We all know where it all went wrong for him, and I often forget there was a time when he was making big budget films like Young Guns, Platoon and Wall Street, but the guy is a natural and it clearly shows in films like this. The late great Raul Julia is always great, chewing up the scene in everything he does. But it's the miscasting of Sonia Braga that really threw me for a loop. I don't know who's idea it was to cast her as the sexy villain, but she's anything but sexy and just seemed horribly miscast here.

One of the best things The Rookie has going for it is that it has some pretty badass action sequences, a convertible with Pulovski and Ackerman crashing through the window of an exploding building, then flying through the air on top of another building accidentally crashing through a sky roof until it lands on the ground inside the building is "the" standout. On top of that, the film only gets better and better as it progresses, with only a few lull sequences here and there. If I had to bitch about anything, it would be those lull sequences, the way too long 2 hour running time and the fact that I would have preferred someone else behind the directors chair for this one. It's all filmed nice and pretty straightforward (it's clean and you can actually tell what the hell's going on), but I think someone with a much more visual style could have really made something special out of this one. I feel the same way about Richard Donner and Lethal Weapon 2 and 4, but that's just me. If IMDB is to be believed, the great Craig R. Baxley (Action Jackson, I Come in Peace, Stone Cold) was originally set to direct this in '88 and oh man! I would have given anything to see that!

Here's some interesting technical tidbits. Scott Spiegel (writer/director of Intruder and writer of Evil Dead 2) co-wrote this with The Punisher screenwriter Boaz Yakin. And I'm talkin' about the "best" Punisher film, the 1989 masterpiece starring Dolph motherfuckin' Lundgren.

This was Eastwood before he got all artsy and starting winning Oscars, but this was literally right at the cusp of his shift in style so it still has a lot to offer. Maybe a little too long at 2 hours, but a lot of action and a tried and true formula keep this one in check.


  1. Think I caught the end of this a while back but never seen it all the way through. Looks like I'll have to rectify that. Though I'm not the biggest fan of Eastwood I can definitely make time for some early 90s action.

    Always thought it was a shame Charlie Sheen didn't do a few more action movies. I really enjoyed him in Terminal Velocity.

    1. You'll definitely dig it. The best thing about it is that it gets better and better as it moves along. It's a pretty straight forward cop buddy flick, and the kind of film they don't make anymore. On a side note, I revisited Ricochet based on your enthusiastic review and it was just as amazing as I remember. Expect a review soon!

    2. Cool, I'll try and pick up a copy. I'm just re-watching a lot of early 90s action movies at the moment anyway - Last Boy Scout, Hudson Hawk, Ricochet.

      Glad Ricochet didn't disappoint, looking forward to your take.

  2. I`ve seen it multiple times, its a solid thing..fun and action with 2 actors I like....nothing id rush to add to my collection, but solid it is...