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"ONE TOUGH COP"
(1998) (Stephen Baldwin, Chris Penn) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Moderate Extreme Moderate Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Moderate None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Mild Minor Mild Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: An undercover New York City cop must deal with his troubled partner and an investigation into his ties with the mob while investigating the rape and beating of a nun.
PLOT:
NYPD undercover detective Bo Dietl (STEPHEN BALDWIN) is one of the Big Apple's finest cops. Although he and partner Duke Finnerty (CHRIS PENN) often use less than reputable means to solve their cases, their success rate is quite high.

Dietl's unorthodox procedures, however, have recently drawn the attention of the FBI, and in particular agents Bruce Payne (VICTOR SLEZAK) and Jean Devlin (AMY IRVING) who are investigating his connection of the Florio crime family. It seems Bo has been lifelong friends with Richie La Cassa (MIKE McGLONE), a mob lieutenant, and often uses his connections for street info to help solve crimes.

Things get even more complicated as Duke's addiction to gambling gets him deeper in debt and trouble with Frankie (PAUL GUILFOYLE), a dangerous Florio loan shark. That situation puts Dietl in an uncomfortable position between his partner who saved his life in the past and his childhood friend who isn't enthusiastic about bailing out Duke, even for a friend.

As the two cops investigate a brutal rape and beating of a local nun -- a case that spurs a department wide task force, but surprisingly omits Bo and Duke on their local beat -- Dietl must contend with those other problems that are compounded by the fact that he's now seeing Richie's estranged mistress, Josephine "Joey" O'Hara (GINA GERSHON).

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're into cop/crime dramas, or are fans of someone in the cast, they might, but other than older teens, it's doubtful many kids will want to see this movie.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong violence and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • STEPHEN BALDWIN plays an undercover cop whose unorthodox (and often physical) methods and close ties to the mob get him into hot water.
  • CHRIS PENN plays Dietl's loyal partner, whose addiction to gambling gets him into even deeper trouble.
  • MIKE McGLONE plays Dietl's childhood friend and current mob lieutenant who helps his old friend whenever he can.
  • GINA GERSHON plays Richie's estranged mistress who gets into a relationship with Dietl.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    A decently constructed cop drama that has all of the elements to qualify for inclusion in that genre, "One Tough Cop" is an okay, but mostly uneventful yarn. Based on the real life exploits of NYPD cop Bo Dietl -- and his subsequent autobiography about them -- this picture will most likely quickly disappear, without much fanfare, from the theaters for a somewhat better life on home video.

    Establishing itself as something of a morality play where the protagonist must choose between serving the city, helping his partner, or remaining loyal to his longtime mob associates, the film benefits from this setup, but never takes those elements far enough to become the tantalizing dramatic thriller it wants to be.

    From the standard-issue, suspenseful opening where Dietl -- an older and more filled out Stephen Baldwin ("Fled," "The Usual Suspects") who's looking and apparently trying to act more like his better known older brother, Alec -- proves he's a tough and resourceful cop, all the way to the climatic finale, the film has all of the necessary material for a first class drama, but never quite manages to pull it off in a compelling fashion.

    We understand, and can appreciate the dilemma in which that the protagonist finds himself, but we never feel for his character. That omission, based on the fact that we never really like the guy and that little of the material feels like it has much weight to it, prevents us from really caring about what happens.

    Sure, the proceedings are easy enough to watch and never approach being boring, but they're missing the electricity or zing that should be there. We should care that Bo's career is in jeopardy, or that his mob friends might eventually put the hit on him, but very little tension ever arises during the film.

    Director Bruno Barreto ("Four Days in September") and screenwriter Jeremy Iacone (who cowrote the little seen "Bound By Honor") have taken the real-life Dietl's work and, according to the credits, fictionalized everyone else but the detective.

    The inclusion of the true instance of a real life nun being beaten and raped is horrific in concept, but the filmmakers don't bring much of that to the screen, and the detectives' investigation into finding the culprits never unfolds as much more than what's seen on your average TV cop drama. While that works on the small screen, its bigger theatrical cousin needs a little more pizzaz, but this film never manages to deliver that.

    The performances, while not outstanding, are all solid and do a decent job of holding one's attention throughout the film. Baldwin, playing the stereotypically scruffy undercover cop, is okay in his role, but isn't capable (partially due to the script) of bringing much depth to his character. While we understand his problems, we never know much about him other than how he reacts to any particular circumstance.

    As the troubled and gambling addicted partner, Chris Penn ("Deceiver," "Reservoir Dogs") delivers a solid performance, while low budget film auteur Edward Burns' favorite actor Mike McGlone ("The Brother's McMullen," "She's The One") is decent as the longtime mafioso friend. The only real disappointment is Gina Gershon ("Face/Off," "Bound") who seemingly appears in the film just to be the pretty face amongst all of the rough looking guys. While she's okay in her limited role, there's not much there with which she can work.

    In addition, her romance with Bo seems more like an added plot contrivance than a naturally occurring element of the story, and the filmmakers certainly don't pursue the potential danger of such a liaison (with her being the mob guy's mistress) as far as they could have for maximum dramatic effect.

    Despite some occasionally stereotypical and often lame exchanges of dialogue ("F*ck you!" No, f*ck you!"), and the less than spectacular execution of the material, the film still manages to be interesting like a good TV cop drama often is. While it will be another one of those effortlessly forgotten films that quickly disappears onto home video and cable TV, it's still an okay yarn. We give "One Tough Cop" a 5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Profanity is extreme with at least 100 "f" words and a wide assortment of other words and phrases. Violence is also extreme with several people being shot and killed, while others are beaten or threatened, all of which occasionally have bloody results and may be tense to some viewers.

    Bad attitudes abound from many of the main characters, and although two characters are having an affair and our protagonist sleeps with his best friend's mistress, we don't see any activity. A moderate amount of drinking occurs with some drunken behavior, and the main characters occasionally smoke. Should you or someone in your home wish to see this film, you may want to take a closer look at the content to determine its appropriateness.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People have drinks in a bar, including Bo and Duke, as well as other background people (who do so in any of the subsequent scenes).
  • Bo, Richie, and others have wine and champagne with dinner.
  • Duke pours liquor from his flask into a small milk carton and then drinks from it.
  • Bo has a shot of liquor in a bar and is joined by Joey who has the same (and then pours herself another one).
  • Richie drinks a shot of liquor.
  • An informant states that he and other men involved with the raping/beating of the nun were "f*cked up" at the time, suggesting that they were under the influence of liquor and/or drugs.
  • Bo has another drink in the bar, as does Joey.
  • Some people have drinks while playing poker.
  • Duke appears to be drunk in a bar, and in another scene, walks out to his car and also seems drunk.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see some blood near a wounded (or dead) person on the floor of a market.
  • We see a few of the small and bloody crucifixes (as well as other bruises) that some men cut into a nun's body after raping and beating her. Moments later, we see some bloody underwear as well as blood on the floor.
  • A man who's been shot has a tiny bit of blood on his shirt.
  • Frankie's face is bloody after Duke repeatedly smashes it on a table.
  • A man who's been shot is a little bloody, as is his hand, and another man who's shot and killed is also bloody.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some may see Bo and Duke's investigatory procedures -- that occasionally involve roughing up suspects -- as having both. Likewise, they may see Bo's loyal ties to the mob as having both (and those mob members as having both), and he's quite disrespectful to the FBI agents who are investigating him.
  • Some street punks try to rob a homeless man (as well as start to urinate on him) who turns out to be Dietl undercover.
  • A man holds his daughter hostage at gunpoint after already killing his wife for having an affair with his brother.
  • Some men rob, rape, and severely beat a nun (as well as urinate on her -- none of which is seen).
  • We hear, but don't see, that Richie and Joey (a woman) were having an affair (he's married).
  • Duke has a gambling addiction that continually gets him deeper into trouble.
  • Higher ranking police officials take credit for Bo and Duke solving a case.
  • Frankie taunts Duke about being a loser.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense to some viewers.
  • A hostage situation where a man holds his own daughter at gunpoint and eventually commits suicide may be tense to some viewers.
  • Bo and Duke show up looking for a suspect. Entering a house with their guns drawn, the cops end up in a standoff with the man as he holds a large knife to Duke's throat while Bo aims his gun at him. Upon the man surrendering, they violently pin him to the floor.
  • The two cops later go looking for that man's accomplice and end up chasing the man who eventually shoots his gun at them. Bo shoots him several times, and Duke later finishes him off when the injured man nearly shoots his partner.
  • A man holds a gun on another man, while a third holds his gun on him. As the third man gets rid of his gun, the first man prepares to shoot him, but the second man ends up getting shot (and dies).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Knives: Used to threaten, wound, or kill people and by one man to commit suicide. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Pumping" (sexual), "Shut the f*ck up," "Go f*ck yourselves," "Suck d*ck," "Sh*tcan," "Sh*t for brains," "Eat me," "Flying rat's ass," "We don't give a rat's ass," "Douche bag," "Bastards," "Balls" (testicles), "Jerk off" and "Shut up."
  • A distraught man commits suicide via a gunshot in the mouth.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of tense music accompanies several scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 100 "f" words (8 used with "mother"), 20 "s" words, 10 terms using male genitals (5 of "c*cksucker," 2 each of "pr*ck" and "d*ck" and 1 of "d*cking"), 2 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts"), 15 asses (6 used with "hole"), 2 hells, 1 S.O.B., and 2 uses each of "G-damn," "Swear to God" and "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "Swear to Christ," "Jesus" and "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Joey shows some cleavage in an outfit she wears.
  • An FBI agent makes a smart-aleck remark about Bo "d*cking him (Richie) on the side..."
  • We hear, but don't see, that Richie and Joey (a woman) were having an affair (he's married).
  • A woman in a bar shows some cleavage and Frankie playfully buries his face in it.
  • We see Bo and Joey (a woman) in bed the next morning, implying that they had sex. We then see just a split-second view of the bottom of her bare butt as she puts on a top after getting out of bed.
  • Richie refers to Bo "pumping" Joey (having sex with her).
  • SMOKING
  • Richie and some of his goons smoke cigarettes and cigars several times.
  • Bo smokes cigars and a cigarette on separate occasions, while Joey smokes once and various people in the backgrounds of shots also smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • A man holds his daughter hostage at gunpoint after already shooting his wife for having an affair with his brother.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of the story.
  • The cops' investigatory methods that include roughing up their suspects.
  • Bo's allegiance to both the crime family he grew up with, and to upholding the law as a cop -- and whether one could have both and still be a "good" cop.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A thug swings a knife at Dietl in an attempt to ward him off, but the cop finally throws the thug to the ground.
  • We hear and see that a man has already shot his wife and another man and is holding his daughter hostage. He then shoots at a cop who was getting too close, and then later puts the gun in his mouth and commits suicide (we hear, but don't see the shot, and then see the beginning of that again in a later flashback).
  • We hear, but don't see, that two men raped, beat and cut forty-some small crucifixes on a nun (as well as urinated on her).
  • One of Richie's thugs punches an informant.
  • A man backhands and then punches Bo after he interrupts the man's street gambling. Bo then takes a trash can lid and repeatedly hits this man on the head with it.
  • While interrogating a witness, Duke takes this man's hot inventory of TV's and other items and begins smashing them or throwing them out the window. During this, Bo smacks the witness.
  • After losing a hand of poker, Duke knocks things from a table and has to be separated from the victor with whom he briefly struggles.
  • Bo smacks Duke trying to knock some sense into him about his gambling problem.
  • Bo and Duke show up looking for a suspect. Entering a house with their guns drawn, the cops end up in a standoff with the man as he holds a large knife to Duke's throat while Bo aims his gun at him. Upon the man surrendering, they violently pin him to the floor.
  • Later interrogating this man, Duke nearly strangles him.
  • The two cops go looking for that man's accomplice and end up chasing the man who eventually shoots his gun at them. Bo shoots him several times, and Duke later finishes him off when the injured man nearly shoots his partner.
  • Bo punches a superior officer who was taking credit for solving the crime he and Duke solved.
  • Duke grabs Frankie and repeatedly slams his face onto a table and then punches him.
  • A man walks up to another man and shoots him several times, killing him.
  • A man holds a gun on another man, while a third holds his gun on him. As the third man gets rid of his gun, the first man prepares to shoot him, but the second man ends up getting shot (and dies).
  • A man shoots another man dead.



  • Reviewed September 15, 1998

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