This semitiresome buddy-cop movie is generally understood to be director-star Clint Eastwood paying his commercial dues for making his wonderful (if relatively uncommercial) White Hunter, Black Heart. The problem is, Eastwood is only as good as his scripts, and this one, by Boaz Yakin and Scott Spiegel, is both mechanical and unfelt. There’s a lot of undigested clinical stuff about why the younger cop (Charlie Sheen), who comes from a wealthy family and who replaces Eastwood’s partner after the latter is killed by the leader of a stolen-car ring (Raul Julia), wants to be a cop at all. Eastwood’s slightly out-of-date loner persona doesn’t really mesh with a buddy plot in any case, and the script’s ploy of endlessly repeating cute bits of dialogue to show how Charlie learns to become a man just like Clint is strictly from hunger. Fortunately, the movie begins and ends with excellent action sequences, and there’s some kinky stuff involving Julia’s mistress (Sonia Braga) and a serviceable score by Lennie Niehaus, all of which give this movie some fitful, intermittent life between the obligatory slugfests and other genre reflexes. But don’t expect a story you can care about or believe in (1990). (JR)

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