Cruising - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cruising Reviews

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½ August 29, 2016
Al Pacino is excellent. Directing is immersive in a gay cruising.
Super Reviewer
August 23, 2016
William Friedkin's dark, highly controversial lurid thriller about an undercover cop named Steve Burns, compellingly played by Al Pacino in low-key understated performance, who goes underground into the gay S&M leather subculture of New York City during the pre-AIDS early 80s to try and catch a sadistic serial-killer of homosexual men. Burns who is straight goes deep cover as a gay man and a decoy for the murderer, he is completely isolated from the police department and his only contact is his superior Captain Edelson, superbly played by Paul Sorvino. He cannot even tell is girlfriend, nicely played by Nancy Alien, about his assignment. But as the vicious murders continue Burns is starting to be affected by his exposure to the hardcore gay lifestyle and it begins to change him. Okay direction by Friedkin, who also wrote the confusing and sometimes awful screenplay which is based on the novel by Gerald Walker. Striking cinematography by James A. Contner, and a marvelous original score by the late Jack Nitzsche. The only real reason to see this film is for Al Pacino's captivating performance, otherwise this motion picture is truly a mess, but fascinating never the less. Note: This film when released in 1980 caused many gays to protest the film for it's degrading and distasteful view of the gay community. Homophobic, ambiguous, brutal and not for all tastes. Recommended.
½ August 17, 2016
Not as graphic as I thought, good mystery, didn't understand ending
½ June 20, 2016
i remember when this came out there was much expectation that the film would deal honestly with gay issues but when it did all it does is portray gay life as sick and preverted.
June 13, 2016
William Friedkin is a master director with an impressive body of work. One of my all time favorite: To live and die in L.a (1985) will forever remain the coolest car chases flick i have ever seen. With this new film, he delivers another great slice of american cinema with a topic rarely explored before, murders in the underground New York Leather and S&M scene in 1980. The film was extremely controversial at the time and has managed to withstand the passing of time, remaining a sort of classic thriller with a very specific vibe and mood. Pacino is solid as ever and delivers once again a great performance. Not my favorite Friedkin film but a good film nevertheless.
June 13, 2016
Honestly the biggest problem with Cruising is just that it's all around mediocre. There's no character development, the acting is mostly bad (with Pacino as the saving grace), the dialogue is bad, the camerawork starts strong then gets lazy quickly, and the story strongly relies on the voyeuristic idea that you want to know what gay men do in basements. I can see why there was an uproar from gay communities over this film. Certainly there is a darker shadow thrown on these clubs than is necessary, and it also cheerily walks all of its victims to the slaughter without giving them a chance to even react or try and save themselves- almost as if they knew it was just a matter of time and they welcome death anyhow. In the end, at least in 2016, the movie just comes across as bland and pointless.
½ April 7, 2016
Friedkin knows how to shoot a movie, but this one just doesn't work. Pacino's motivation and his feelings on his assignment are never that clear, and the motivation of the killer he is hunting is just as muddled. Why is he committing these crimes? Something to do with a ghost dad, I guess. It's an interesting movie, one that plays with material you'd rarely see in the early 80s and even today...but it just doesn't have a strong enough story OR make the motivations of both the hero and villain clear. Just makes it all feel like a big waste.
January 27, 2016
Paul Sorvino and Pacino put on very good performances but the ambiguity especially concerning the ending is just quite unnecessary. It could have been better and my rating could have been higher.
December 4, 2015
If one were to strip the movie of its leather, gory murders, and gay bar scenes, there would be no story - nothing but a movie that goes through the motions of being a character study and a whodunit thriller.
½ November 20, 2015
Not nearly enough in this film to even remotely hint that Pacino was the killer, so why the ambiguous ending? I didn't even understand that that was supposed to be a thing, when I watched it...
September 28, 2015
Well, I never quite expected that. I wonder if the way the gay scene in New York was portrayed in this film went down well, I really can't imagine so. I wouldn't know but I'd be surprised if what we see in this film is anything near realistic. Nor was Pacino camping it up although it is quite funny. I'd read that this was a disturbing film; I'm not quite sure why
½ August 25, 2015
I did not like cruising al pacinos potrays as an undercover cop trying to catch a
serial killer who only preys on gay men was awful
August 11, 2015
This is a gloriously sleazy and lurid thriller from master of controversy William Friedkin, concerning Al Pacino's cop going undercover into the world of gay SnM clubs in order to find a serial killer, it's a somewhat misguided film in it's sometimes ridiculous and seedy depiction of gay culture as something dark and fearful that is having a bad effect on our protagonist, trying to fight the closeted side of himself. But its such a confrontational and graphic movie, both in it's depictions of the giallo esc splatter killings and the (sometimes real) gay sex, plus it's grimy look at early 80's new york, that it remains compulsive and brilliantly nasty viewing that you cant rip your eyes off. A particular highlight is Pacino's hilarious dancing and a truly bizarre scene that i still cant get my head around were a massive, nearly naked black guy bitch slaps a dude in a police station.
½ July 21, 2015
Not exactly Serpico, but late 70's New York is just so beautifully gritty to look at.
May 24, 2015
The 1980s brought a whole bunch of iconic films , raging bull , platoon , the shining , full metal jacket, breakfast club and do the right thing . This is one of the most controversial films ever . It explores homosexuality and NYC gay clubs like no other film the critics had seen before .
½ May 20, 2015
Somewhat inevitably a product of its time, but while it's definitely exploitative, it's also far more subversive than it's generally given credit for. A defiantly B-movie serial killer plot (it's difficult to keep track of this aspect of things, and harder to care) is enlivened by the focus on Al Pacino's aspiring detective and his quietly contentious relationship to the goings on around him. A serial killer film that focuses on the cop rather than the killer would have been all but unthinkable a mere decade letter. The film's sexual politics, in particular its depiction of a heterosexual man confused and intrigued by his own reactions to gay sex, would be unthinkable in the mainstream Hollywood film industry today.
April 10, 2015
At the start of his career Pacino was on such a roll but it was not continued in this uneven work.
March 22, 2015
The last review in my trilogy of messed up potential masterpieces, CRUISING never appeared to me as the anti-gay slap so many wanted it to be. In fact, the gayness of the film has little to do with its meaning in my book. Like TERMINAL STATION and CIAO! MANHATTAN, CRUISING is all about modern day neuroses. More vicious and violent than the other works, CRUISING is a powder keg of a movie about a powder keg of a city at a very mean time. What I like most about CRUISING is that its fairly explicit S&M scenes are not at all sexy or titillating. No one is having any fun. Everyone is bored... but what the hell... let's add violence to sex. A very human reaction to a world that does not allow for release or pleasure. Director Friedkin has too much on his mind but he is up so something very interesting. CRUISING is a mess but a mess that has haunted me since I first saw it in Times Square having asked an adult to buy me a ticket. Kind of appropriate.
November 23, 2014
11/22/2014: It was an ok movie. Pacino did a great job and there was an interesting twist, but the story was pretty dull and generally uninteresting.
October 24, 2014
Disjointed, flawed, badly framed...so what. The film and Pacino's turn from good cop to utter ugly damaged gods are unforgetable.
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