Rush (1991 film)

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Rush (1991 film) cover.jpg
Theatrical Poster
Directed byLili Fini Zanuck
Produced byGary Daigler
Richard D. Zanuck
Written byKim Wozencraft (book)
Pete Dexter (screenplay)
Music byEric Clapton
CinematographyKenneth MacMillan
Edited byMark Warner
The Zanuck Company
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • December 22, 1991 (1991-12-22)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million
Box office$7.2 million[1]

Rush is a 1991 American crime/drama film directed by Lili Fini Zanuck and based on a novel written by Kim Wozencraft. It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric as two cops in the 1970s who go undercover on a case. They become drug addicts themselves and, failing to get the evidence they need, use falsified evidence.


In Texas, seasoned undercover narcotics police officer Jim Raynor is told by his superior Lt. Dodd to choose a partner from a group of recent police academy graduates for his undercover investigation, which has been ongoing for two years. His choice of Kristen Cates surprises Dodd, but Raynor is confident she is the right fit for what he needs.

Raynor explains to Cates that all they will have is each other in this assignment. They are caught between the legal world and the illegal underworld, belonging to neither and able to trust only one another. Though initially startled by Raynor's intensity, Cates insists she is capable of doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Later at Raynor's apartment, he teaches Cates how to properly shoot up heroin. Cates informs Raynor that she was instructed how to fake drug use at the police academy, which prompts a strong rebuke from Raynor. He informs her in no uncertain terms that she will be put in situations where she will have to take the drugs they will be buying. The drug dealers they will be doing business with are not stupid, and if she tries to fake drug use in front of them, she will get both of them killed.

Raynor and now Cates's main objective in their operation is to take down the cunning, mysterious, and powerful Will Gaines. While Raynor (and the police department) is certain Gaines is the main drug boss in the town, Gaines is an expert at avoiding detection, and deeply mistrustful of Raynor. Unable to secure access to him, Cates and Raynor buy large quantities of drugs from minor dealers in the town. These drugs are cataloged and given to Dodd, along with information detailing from whom they bought the drugs. Raynor and Cates quickly go from pretending to be lovers to the real thing.

As Raynor predicted, Cates is soon put into a position where she is forced to inject drugs in front of a drug dealer. Raynor tries to intervene and tell the dealer that "his lady doesn't fix", but the dealer insists at gunpoint. Cates first tries nervously to talk her way out of the situation, then yanks off her jacket and with shaking hands begins to prepare a heroin shot as Raynor had taught her. Seeing her high level of anxiety, Raynor takes the prepared needle from her and injects it into her arm. While the dealer watches approvingly and laughs, Cates quietly vomits off screen.

Soon enough, Cates is addicted to the drugs she has to use to maintain her cover, and Raynor arrives home one day to find Cates combing the carpet, desperately searching for any crumbs of drugs that may have fallen. Raynor nurses Cates through her withdrawal while appearing largely unaffected by his own drug use. However, over the course of the film he becomes even more addicted than she. Eventually, both are able to get clean, but remain traumatized and scarred by their drug experiences.

Though they have successfully infiltrated the town's drug underworld, Raynor and Cates are no closer to obtaining evidence against Gaines. Under pressure from the department, they falsify evidence against Gaines in order to secure his arrest and indictment. They move into a small trailer awaiting the beginning of the trial. Cates is startled awake one evening by a double barrel shotgun caressing her face. A gunfight ensues in which Raynor is shot in the thigh, striking his femoral artery. Cates frantically goes for help, then returns to the trailer to find Raynor barely conscious. He dies in her arms.

At Gaines's trial, Cates is on the witness stand. During her testimony, she mentions that she has resigned from the police force. Her testimony sticks to the fabricated story Raynor and she concocted, and appears to earn the support of the jury and courtroom spectators. When she looks directly at Gaines, however, he slides two fingers down the bridge of his nose, mimicking the movement of the shotgun that eventually killed Raynor. Stunned, Cates retracts her statements about Gaines's involvement in the drug trade, and testifies that they were ordered to fabricate evidence by the Chief of Police. This of course secures Gaines's acquittal.

Freed from police custody, Gaines gets into his car a few nights later. As he drives down the road, he notices someone hiding in the backseat. Gaines pulls over, and as he turns to confront them, he is killed by a double barrel shotgun blast to the face. The killer is never shown, but it is implied is that it is Cates.

Factual basis[edit]

This film is based on a semi-autobiographical first novel, Rush (Random House, 1990), by Kim Wozencraft.[2]. Wozencraft used her experiences working as an undercover agent in Texas as the basis for the novel.



Eric Clapton's Grammy-winning song "Tears in Heaven" is featured in the film. Clapton wrote the film's score and performed on it. The soundtrack includes Clapton's guitar and vocals on "Tears in Heaven" and "Help Me Up"; Clapton and Buddy Guy perform "Don't Know Which Way to Go" as well. It was mastered by Ted Jensen.

Other songs featured in the film (but not on the soundtrack album) are Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" (composed by Bob Dylan), Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird", Freddy Fender's "Before the Next Teardrop Falls", Robin Trower's "Bridge of Sighs", The Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster", and Johnny Winter's "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" (composed by Rick Derringer).


The film was met with generally positive reviews, with a 71% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews with an average score of 6.2 out of 10.[3]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. ^
  2. ^ Wozencraft, Kim (1991). Rush. Random House. ISBN 080419954X.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-05.

External links[edit]