Cruising, a controversial film by one of cinemas most unpredictable directors, has the promise of a deeper film. Following Al Pacino as undercover cop Steve Burns into the S&M homosexual underworld of New York causes an identity crisis within the character. Is he disturbed by the leather and whips or does it awaken something inside him? Well, these big ideas never come to fruition. There is an ambiguous ending which erects a veil of mystery but that's about it. Cruising seems to believe that it has some big ideas but it never fully commits to them.
Pacino's performance is very Pacino but perhaps more subdued. Think Michael Corleone. Meanwhile, Paul Sorvino is a walking balloon of tears. Friedkin asked Sorvino to tap into the characters sadness and it's clear that Paul Sorvino did just that.
There are undeniably tense moments and the murderer plot line is thrilling. In particular, scene of brutal stabbings with horrific grunting noises and strange synth sounds will make any moviegoer heavyweight squirm. Yet, sadly the film's entire purpose falls flat. Instead of taking itself into fifth gear, the film just cruises.