United Artists | Release Date: February 15, 1980 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Mixed or average reviews based on 18 Critics
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Chicago TribuneKevin M. Williams
This isn't a particularly great flick, but Pacino's performance is first-rate. [24 May 2002, p.C1]
What Friedkin's film is about is anybody's guess. If he just wanted to make a thriller, he has made a clumsy and unconvincing one. If he wanted to explore the psychology of his characters, he has left out most of the relevant information. If he intended to illuminate the tricky subject of S&M, he hasn't even scratched the surface. "Cruising" is quite effective in working up an atmosphere of dread: the ominous bar scenes are butch grand guignol, full of sweaty flesh, menacing shadows and barely glimpsed acts of degradation performed by glowering, bearded men in black leather and chains. But who are these people and why are they doing all these kinky things? Friedkin isn't interested in explaining his milieu; he merely offers it up as a superficially shocking tableau for the titillation and horror of his audience. [18 Feb 1980, p.92]
What Cruising does have, then, is a claim to narrow truth and limited verisimilitude. What it does not have is a mind. [15 Feb 1980]
Cruising is a lurid, shambles, at once drawn to obscene stimulation in the form of hideous crimes and sadomasoschistic sexual appetites and yet dramatically evasive and incomprehensible. Even the most ardent sensation-seekers are likely to trudge out of this fiasco with their brows knit into a collective "Huh?" [18 Feb 1980, p.B1]
Washington PostK. Summers
Technically the movie is flawless. One scene in Central Park, when Pacino confronts the murder suspect on a deserted rain-slicked path, is haunting and beautfully photographed. But that's hardly a reason to sit through the rest of this wretched film. [22 Feb 1980, p.19]