Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Harry Met Affirmative Action

The Enforcer (1976)
Starring: Clint Eastwood and Tyne Daly
Director: James Fargo
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

When a terrorist group attempts to blackmail San Francisco with bombings, murders, and ultimately by kidnapping the mayor, even the unorthodox methods of Police Inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood) might not be enough to overcome both the bad guys and the touchy-feely approach of the "new" San-Fran city government.

In "The Enforcer", the real-world San Francisco finally seems to catch up with Dirty Harry, as he spends as much time fighting against style-over-substance politics as he does tracking down the villains. Although the bad guys here are not up to the standards set by the first two movies--they may be more violent, but they're no where near as sinister--this movie is a vast improvement over "Magnum Force", not only because it actually has a well-focused storyline, but also because the character of Harry comes off as multi-faceted... and, for that matter, a true believer in justice and equality. From his interactions with black militants to his approach to his new female partner (Daly) who has been foisted on him in the name of women's-lib, Harry shows a constant willingness to accept anyone who proves themselves worthy of his trust and respect.

Like previous "Dirty Harry" movies, this film is blessed with excellent camera work and a great cast. In addition, the script is excellent, with the rookie homicide detective who gets promoted just because she's a woman, but who shows she definitely has the chops, being a great character (as well as a source of some of the film's more humorous moments.) What's more, out of all the films in the series, this is the one where Harry Callahan comes across the strongest and most likable. This is why the film has one of the saddest endings I think I've ever seen to a cop drama.

So, despite somewhat weakly realized foes for our gun-toting, morally unbendable homicide detective, "The Enforcer" stands as the second-best film in the "Dirty Harry" series.

1 comment:

  1. I like it too. Not the best in the series, but certainly the most under-rated. (Though I'd rather watch the worst of them than most other things I can think of...)