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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 10/08/1998, B: eeming about , A: eeming about ,

One Tough Cop

Like Sidney Lumet's Serpico, One Tough Cop is a gritty crime drama that paints a stark portrait of a New York City police officer who bucks the hypocrisy and status quo of the department in his unbridled quest for justice. As real-life cop Bo Dietl -- the film is "inspired" by his book of the same title -- Stephen Baldwin plays the stubborn SOB juiced up on morality trying to solve the savage rape/mutilation of a nun. He gets some added muscle in cracking the case from his childhood friend Richie La Cassa (Mike McGlone), who's now an underboss in the mob. Things get dicy when the FBI (led by a drippy Amy Irving in the film's funniest turn) pressures Bo to roll over on his mob buddies, and it doesn't help matters any that Bo is diddling Richie's gal (Gina Gershon) on the side, or that his boozed-up partner, Duke (Chris Penn), racks up a monstrous gambling debt with one of Richie's underlings.

Baldwin, McGlone, and Penn give dead-letter performances, but the film doesn't allow them to develop their characters beyond the street's testosterone-laden codes of machismo and loyalty. One Tough Cop gives Dietl's heroics their due -- too bad it sacrifices sincerity for sensationalism in the process.

-- Tom Meek