If you conjure the image of a Clint Eastwood cop movie, you probably have one of two visions in your mind: either you think of the dark and brutal Dirty Harry franchise or you think of Eastwood’s more recent, serious work as a director. What few people would think of is an over-the-top buddy cop flick that is packed to the brim with ridiculous action, and yet in 1990, Eastwood directed and starred in The Rookie, which is exactly that.
The Rookie is billed as an “action comedy” but it takes itself 100% seriously. Eastwood stars as Nick Pulovski, a grizzled and violent police detective whose partner is killed chasing a crimelord played by Raul freaking Julia. Despite his objections, Eastwood is then paired up with a hungry, young rookie played by Charlie Sheen. So we’ve got a balls to the wall action movie directed by – and starring – Clint Eastwood, that also features Charlie Sheen and Raul Julia. Based on that alone, The Rookie is a recipe for ridiculousness.
This movie packs some of the most ridiculous action, one liners, and fight scenes ever committed to film. Charlie Sheen kills dogs, shoots bad guys, and burns a bar to the ground. As the bar burns around him, Sheen beats up the bartender, squeezing information from him. Then, as the ceiling collapses and everything begins to explode, Sheen sneers “I never did pay you for that beer.” He then gets on a motorcycle and rides off while everything explodes. That’s just one little scene in the sea of insanity that is this movie.
The best moment of the film comes when Eastwood and Sheen are trapped in a building that is about to explode (cause everything explodes in this movie). Frantic and running out of time, they hop in a convertible that is strangely parked on the fifth floor of the building and drive out the window as the building bursts into flame around them. While in midair, with the world exploding around them, Eastwood turns to Sheen and growls “fasten your seatbelt.” They cruise across a roof, crash through a skylight and land safely. “They don’t make ‘em like this anymore,” Eastwood grins. He was talking about the car, but he might as well have been commenting on the whole movie.
This might sound like I’m damning this movie, but I genuinely love The Rookie. It’s a hell of a good time from start to finish. Interestingly enough, it also happens to be co-written by Boaz Yakin, the guy who wrote the supremely awesome 1989 The Punisher flick starring Dolph Lundgren. Somehow, The Rookie manages to be even more bananas crazy than that movie, which is a very good thing. If you are looking to watch something that hits all the hallmarks of 90s action and is a blast all the way through, then spend some time with The Rookie. It’s got Raul Julia as a crimelord terrorist. Raul Julia, guys!