There may besome sublime pleasure in watching Arnold Schwarzenegger, his peninsular jaw locked in grim determination, his eyes twitching as spent shells whiz around him, shooting the dickens out of the mob, its glassware and its bar stock. But I must confess it is lost on me.
Unfortunately, this spectacle is, like the pig at a Texas barbecue, the centerpiece of "Raw Deal," a mostly tedious, cheaply made shoot-'em-up from the always classy Dino De Laurentiis.
"Raw Deal" recycles the cliche's that have long been the cud of television cop dramas. Kaminsky (Schwarzenegger) was thrown out of the FBI, known here as "the Bureau," for brutalizing a child molester; he whiles away the days as a sheriff in a small southern town but yearns for the excitement of the big city, as does his wife, who has since become an alcoholic.
Along comes Shannon (Darren McGavin), Kaminsky's old superior at the Bureau, bearing a grudge -- a mobster in Chicago has killed a number of agents, including Shannon's son. If Kaminsky can infiltrate the Chicago mob and clean it up, offers Shannon, there's a chance he can get him back into the Bureau.
As choreographed by director John Irvin, the action sequences are exciting, although they're so noisy (with music by the appropriately anonymous Cinemascore) that, about halfway through, they start to wear you out. What also wears you out is all the military hardware Schwarzenegger drags out, shot in the now-obligatory "Rambo"-style montage, with bullets clicking into guns, guns clattering into holsters, and the macho sounds of a garment bag being zippered.
Screen writers Gary De Vore and Norman Wexler have filled "Raw Deal" with jokes, mostly to let us know that they're better than their material; and while you might agree with them, you might also wish that they were so much better than their material that they had left it alone altogether.
Some of the zingers work (particularly when Schwarzenegger barks at his wife, "You should not drink and bake!"), and some don't. That's partly because the movie's dialogue sequences are edited clumsily, partly because some of the lines aren't all that zingy, and mostly because they all have to be spoken by Schwarzenegger, an actor who could make the wittiest flight of Noel Coward seem like a tongue twister.
Raw Deal, at area theaters, is rated R and contains graphic violence