IT'S LESS A ''Rush'' than it is pokey.
That's a little harsh for a movie that means so well, but in truth, that's what the new film is, pokey. Its mood is beyond question. Its pace is admirably deliberate, but it takes a long time to tell the story, which, when all is said and done, could have been made with a lot more pace.
Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh star. They play narcotics cops who are working somewhere in Texas, where drugs, it seems, are a part of daily life.
He asks to have her as his partner. She's only been on the force for seven months, so you might wonder why they didn't choose someone with more experience. She, however, goes along very willingly, and both eventually become addicted to the very product they are working to reduce or eliminate.
You do wonder about this. Is it really necessary for narcs to fTC become users in order to perform their jobs?
That's what ''Rush'' says, more or less. It says that anyone who goes undercover as a narc is likely to end up a user, so the movie isn't going to serve as a recruitment film.
If ''Rush'' weren't based on the partly autobiographical book by Kim Wozencraft, you'd have trouble believing all this.
Sam Elliott is the officers' superior, a man who has them call at his home on occasion, this, while they are supposedly working under cover. Gregg Allman, rock musician, makes his feature debut as Wil Gaines, a leading dealer in the town of Kitterly, Texas, where this melodrama takes place.
Lili Fini Zanuck directed ''Rush,'' and sincerity is written all over the film. What she wanted to make was a movie that was very earnest and European in texture.
It is both those things. There isn't a laugh in the entire film, and the movie, overall, plays like the crime movies the French were doing a few years back. Those, however, were in French, so the spectator was involved, in part, with the subtitles, trying to decide whether or not they matched what was really being said by the players.
''Rush'' doesn't offer that kind of diversion. You have to look at this film, end to end, without the distraction of subtitles, and while you may admire the film for its grit, it is very likely to bore long before it ends.
The actors are good. Patric, who has received off-screen notoriety as the boyfriend to Julia Roberts, is at home on the screen. He definitely has presence. So does Leigh, who is told to let hair get dirty if she is to pose as a user. She does, but it is Hollywood dirty.
''Rush'' is by no means endorsing the use of drugs. It is never to be confused with the routines done by MTV comics who all but announce that they are users.
It is, however, sluggish in its determination to maintain a mood. And it is not easy to watch. Seeing people stick needles in their arms is not all that much fun unless you're a horror freak.
The ending is interesting. The narcs, at the insistence of their superiors, frame one of the sellers, who gets off.
Allman has about two lines. Most of the time, he just walks through the clubs the narcs frequent. The role couldn't have been better cast.
** Two undercover narcs become part of the problem.
CAST: Sam Elliott, Jason Patric, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Max Perlich, Gregg Allman, Tony Frank, William Sadler
DIRECTOR: Lili Fini Zanuck
RATING: R (sex, nudity, language, violence)
RUNNING TIME: Two hours