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One Tough Cop

Starring Stephen Baldwin, Chris Penn, Michael McGlone; Gina Gershon and Amy Irving
Screenplay by Jeremy Iacone
based on the autobiography of Bo Dietl
Directed by Bruno Barreto
Website: www.onetoughcop.com

IN SHORT: Nothing new.

In a street tough New York neighborhood, where half the kids grow up to be "made men," and the other half grow up to be dead by 18, Bo Dietl (Stephen Baldwin) was the exception. He grew to be a cop. The neighborhood didn't change. His friends, the ones that survived, didn't change. But an unspoken line was drawn between the right side and the wrong side of the law, and the line was never crossed by the neighborhood guys who had been friends since kindergarten.

Which brings us to One Tough Cop, the story of real life cop Dietl and his world, where friends are "bad" and allies aren't much better. Dietl's partner Duke Finnerty (Chris Penn) owes markers up to his eyeballs to mob bookies. Both cops are best termed, "rogue," rarely following procedure or playing by the rules. That's lovely when it comes to being decoys to bust punks, but quite another thing when a nun is brutalized inside her church. Our bad boys solve the crime all by themselves, and then have to face up to the police commission that steals the credit, and the mobster who coincidentally wants his money.

The only thing keeping Duke alive is his partner's ties to an organized crime boss Richie LaCassa (Michael McGlone), long time pal of Bo. The FBI, represented by a scarily hard-assed Amy Irving, is leaning on Bo to turn on his friend. She's got incriminating photos all, of course, viewed out of context. On the other side of the legal fence, Richie's ex-mistress (Gina Gershon) is sleeping in Bo's bed, that old macho thing kicks in. Old truces break right and left, good comes up against evil. Relationships will be ruined. Friends will die. Same old same old.

Had this story been set later than the 1980s, it could have been a tale of cops blowing busts for neglecting to obtain search warrants or seeing cases tossed for roughing up a witness. In the 80s, apparently, busting heads worked -- the success of cops like Dietl (over 1000 successful arrests and convictions) are what make Republicans yearn for the good old days.

Actually, based on the e-mail flames I get from teen boys, One Tough Cop is perfect for 'em. Our pair bust ass, bust regulations and get busted up, making it a perfect flick for kids who don't like to think too much. Just like Cranky at 15. Cranky at 40 would prefer enough background to help develop a little sympathy to the characters, but Stephen Baldwin's performance doesn't offer that. Chris Penn continues to play the loser and everything else is forgettable.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to One Tough Cop, he would have paid . . .


Rental level. One Tough Cop offers enough violence for a good TV ride, but that's about it. Let the teen boy flaming e-mail come! (Cranky'll have the last laugh 'cuz I'm saving all the flames for a compilation book that I'll license for a movie deal in ten years time. Ha! on you! <vbg>)

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