“Cruising” is a well made thriller and does contain some suspense but I didn’t find it truly compelling due to a rather bland performance by Al Pacino as well as the stand offish direction from the great William Friedkin.
The story involves a police officer who goes under cover to catch a serial killer who is killing gay men by using S&M tactics. Pacino plays the undercover cop, who finds himself in and out of sleazy bars and underground sex parties in an attempt to get close to the killer.
The subject matter is quite interesting and Friedkin is good at making the locations and the people look real and authentic but he never really penetrates their world. He is almost like a lost tourist who just wants to find the closest exit.
I found that feeling to trickle down in to Pacino’s performance. I couldn’t put my finger on why but his performance here just seemed uninspired, almost like he wasn’t truly interested in the character. Pacino never really made me believe he was a cop but merely an uninterested Private Eye maybe.
This movie is notorious for having received harsh criticism from gay activists which included some picketing at a few theatres. They felt that this film would paint a portrait of gay people as sleazy fetishists.