Saturday, 27 February 2010

No.14 : The Enforcer

This is the middle film of Clint Eastwood’s five outings as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callaghan, the no-nonsense San Francisco police inspector, and is easily the bloodiest. In short it’s the Tyne Daly one that ends at Alcatraz.

The film opens in pretty low key fashion with a foxy chick luring two city workers to their deaths at the hands of her blonde, blue eyed boyfriend. Meanwhile Harry is doing what he does best by shooting the asses off a gang of liquor store robbers. ‘I wanna come in and talk’ says Harry and is invited in by the gang who clearly missed the first two movies. After Harry turns the store into a drive thru he gets his customary dressing down from his by the book boss. It’s only a cliché because Clint started it!

With him transferred off homicide Harry starts his new role in personnel even though “personnel is for ass holes”. After some glorious PC bashing with a ‘Ms.’ from the mayor’s office, in a scene that is a bit too broad for my taste, Harry is teamed up with Tyne Daly’s fresh faced new recruit after his partner get knifed by the creeps we saw at the start. It turns out that they are a bunch of ex-hookers and Vietnam vet revolutionaries who have raided the arms depot and want $1 million - well that was a lot of money then.

There are a few scenes where Daly struggles to be accepted in the man’s world and we’re pretty sure she’ll turn out all right. Some of these, the autopsy one for a start, seemed a bit contrived as did the captain telling her to be quiet when we all knew she had the juicy info to impart. The bad guys make their first mistake when they send a man in floppy hat to bomb the police station and after an overlong chase to an overbearing jazz soundtrack they get their man by way of a porno shoot.

Harry’s investigation is derailed by an ambitious mayor who is soon undone himself when the revolutionaries take him hostage. With Harry on suspension and the mayor locked up in Alcatraz the ransom due there’s just time for the .44 to be reloaded and for Tyne to get her life insurance up to date.

This is a film of its age and it’s hard to criticise things that were fine then and seem strange now. The portrayals of woman and ethnic minorities are almost charming in their sexist and racial naivety. It’s plainly signposted that Daly is going to come good despite her various faux pas and once she bonds with Harry you know the writing’s on the wall.

The white revolutionaries are poorly drawn and are off the screen too long in the first hour. By the time we see them plotting to kidnap the mayor we’ve almost forgotten they exist amid all the inter departmental bickering. The lead bad guy does a reasonable crazy stare but he’s certainly no Scorpio out of ‘Dirty Harry’ and barely a David Soul out of ‘Magnum Force’.

Some of the action is OK but it’s only the scenes at Alcatraz that take this away from run of the mill fare. The best parts are Harry’s run ins with his superiors but by now in the third film it is getting a bit samey. Harry is stuck off the force for a record short period with the ink barely dry on his suspension before they go crawling back.

The anti-liberal theme is fine, and really what you’d expect when you watch a ‘Dirty Harry’, but when the agitators are all a bunch of dumb clucks it makes it less satisfying when Clint makes his day. It is still quite an enjoyable film with a few classic ‘Harry’ moments but for the most part this film is largely superfluous and not a patch on the original.

THE Tag Line : Harry Rotter 62%

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