With Clint Eastwood, Charlie Sheen, Raul Julia and Sonia Braga
The Rookie is an expensive looking action movie with all the ingredients and little flavour. With Clint Eastwood behind the megaphone, casting himself in the central role of veteran detective, Nick Pulovski, the movie is a bland trudge through a series of worn motifs as Clint takes young whipper-snapper Charlie Sheen under his wing as they battle to take down Raul Julia’s dollar hungry lawbreaker.
Dumb and largely nonsensical, the silliness isn’t complimented by the spirit conveyed throughout the Lethal Weapon series –more a pessimistic grittiness which leaves the movie stranded somewhere in nowheresville. There are violent bar brawls and impressive car chases, but oddly, none of it amounts to anything you’d call substantial.
Around the straightforward plot, Eastwood and Sheen aren’t able to muster much chemistry. Sheen’s ‘rookie’ character carries both the guilt of a family tragedy and father issues, but really, he comes off as a bit of a wet blanket in need of a good slap, as he struggles to come to terms with various things you’ll struggle to stay interested in.
Raul Julia is uncharacteristically ineffective, as his cold-blooded psychopathic sidekick Sonia Braga grabs most of the attention with virtually no dialogue. One scene in which Eastwood is bound and sexually assulted by Braga is full-on weird in the way it is prolonged and depticted as erotic – imagine how that might play in a reverse of the sexes…
Throughout the piece, Eastwood attempts to birth new iconic one-liners; “If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster”…”Got a light?” – it seems like each time Eastwood opens his mouth, he’s trying out a witty quip, even as he and Sheen escape an exploding building he finds time in mid-air to squeeze in “fasten your seat belt”. While gruff catchphrases have always been his trademark, the lines don’t land the way they should, which is perhaps symptomatic of the autopilot feel of the movie.
In small cult corners, the film will have its devotees, but for the most part, it’s an afterthought of a cops n’ robbers tale that seems to exist to serve a higher purpose. Indeed, it’s widely reported that Eastwood made the film in order to get White Hunter Black Heart green-lit.