Picks and Pans Review: Rent-a-Cop

updated 02/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Pointless in the extreme, this movie has impact only as sadly graphic testimony to the waning of two once-thriving careers. If this movie had ever made sense for Burt Reynolds and Liza Minnelli, which is a questionable proposition, it would have done so at least 15 years ago. Reynolds plays a Chicago cop who is the only survivor of a massacre during a botched drug bust. Minnelli is a hooker who gets a glimpse of the killer and becomes his target. This most routine of setups is handled idly by writers Dennis {Flashpoint) Shryack and Michael Blodgett, a former actor, and director Jerry London, a TV veteran (Chiefs, Shogun, Wheels) making his feature debut. The movie looks as if someone went over the script at the last minute with orders to remove anything entertaining—and did a terrific job. Nobody in the movie acts much like a real cop, killer, hooker, waitress, bus driver, reporter or anything else. Reynolds is at his most laconic, barely mustering the energy to shrug as bullets are whizzing past his head. Minnelli, way past being merely all atwitter, babbles incessantly and generally acts like the world's most immature 14-year-old. It's ultimately hard to decide whether to feel sorry for Reynolds and Minnelli—or to get angry at them for so awfully misusing their talent and the affection audiences have always accorded them. There is an unhappy double meaning to a romantic scene in which Minnelli says to Reynolds, "I'm not used to caring," and he answers, "I'm not either." (R)

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