Picks and Pans Review: Impulse

updated 04/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Theresa Russell, Jeff Fahey

It must be payback time, guys. Like Blue Steel, this is a movie directed by a woman, Sondra Locke, about a woman cop who fends off sexist harassment from male cops when she isn't blasting the heads off male crooks. It is also a movie whose star, Russell, has a line that goes, "Inside every guy is a pervert just waiting to get out." The script was co-written by a woman, Leigh Chapman, and a man, John De Marco—traitor, traitor, traitor.

This all adds up to a point of view strong enough to make the movie entertaining, though its plot—about another drug dealer toting a suitcase full of money—is routine. Russell even gets to be the one who has the commitment phobia in her relationship with Fahey (The Last of the Finest), who plays a naive D.A.

Locke (Ratboy) has a nice sense of pace, and she manages to get a sturdy performance out of Russell, who, when she is not working for her husband, Nicolas Roeg, is susceptible to lapses in concentration. (In 1988's Physical Evidence, in fact, she lapsed for the whole movie.) Russell gives some lines a sort of knotty-pine reading. But for the most part she's confused and sexy as a vice cop who comes to possess the aforementioned suitcase and thinks she can get away with keeping it.

George (No Way Out) Dzundza adds an ingenious performance as the married cop who lusts after Russell. His part is nicely written; this is a weasel of a human being but a pro at his job. Alan (After Midnight) Rosenberg, as Fahey's assistant, also has something to work with, at one point telling Fahey he's too picky when it comes to women: "People depreciate. Every year they get a lot more selective and a little less desirable."

Locke could be forgiven for self-satisfaction from this movie. Not only does it have a certain Dirty Harriet quality that puts it up there with the acting work of her ex, Clint Eastwood ("Make my career"), but it's a polished film in its own right and an effective feminist treatise, at least up until the wimp-out ending. (R)

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