Directed by Ron Shelton, starring Kurt Russell, Ving Rhames, Brendan GleesonScott Speedman, Michael Michelle and Kurupt.

Tough guys don't age very well. That hard-living 21-year-old, raising hell on his rampage through life eventually turns into the nostalgic bore at the golf club bar.

In 'Dark Blue', that bore role is perfectly filled by Kurt Russell, an actor whose blow-dried machismo was so endearing throughout the 1980s. In this, he's more of a blowhard.

The writers of this desperately clichéd police drama don't give poor old Kurt much help. It's hard to imagine a writer sitting down with a straight face and thinking, 'Here's a good idea. Imagine a tough cop who doesn't play by the rules. He's an edgy guy with a drink problem who is splitting up from his wife. He comes from a family of cops. He finds himself dogged by bureaucratic do-gooders.'

Throw in a few other cop movie standards (stern black senior officer, barelycoherent black gang member and people saying, "he was a good cop, dammit") and this flimsy tale of life in a corrupt LAPD is all but complete. Given a spurious shove towards politics by setting it during the Rodney King trial, 'Dark Blue' thrashes its way through its predictable narrative with brain-numbing results.

Irish actor Brendan Gleeson is poor as the dubious senior policeman, displaying a bizarre series of facial tics, like a man who's wet his pants at a snooty social function. That this actor, who is blessed with a superb talent and an imposing physical presence, produces such an inept performance is a savage indictment of 'Dark Blue's director, Ron Shelton, who was previously responsible for the entertaining 'White Men Can't Jump'.

Ving Rhames makes the best of a seriously underwritten part and the othersupporting actors acquit themselves respectably (keep an eye out for rapper Kurupt).

But by the time Kurt is mounting a lectern (literally) to deliver his closing speech, I was asleep at the back of the class. If only he could have availed of his right to remain silent.

Luke McManus