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Overall Rating
3.29

Awesome: 14.71%
Worth A Look: 17.65%
Average50%
Pretty Bad: 17.65%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 22 user ratings


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Enforcer, The
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by Jack Sommersby

"Egregious 'Enforcer'"
2 stars

The very least of the series. No brains, no balls, just cop-out poppycock.

Direly devoid of both flair and excitement, the third Dirty Harry entry The Enforcer couldn't be more lackluster or disposable. It's one of those run-of-the-mill sequels Hollywood churns out just because they can, and because fans of the series will no doubt plunk down those box-office dollars hoping for some actual entertainment value. Granted, the movie isn't completely absent of virtues, but they're not enough to overcome a pathetic screenplay, nondescript direction, and an array of dimwitted situations an array of mostly two-dimensional characters fumble about in without any semblances of believability. (Yes, even escapist entertainment needs to be plausible on some level.) Dirty Harry was consistently gripping and dazzlingly directed, while Magnum Force, despite its crudeness and being overwritten, kept viewers pleasurably jazzed throughout. This time around, though the main character and setting are the same, Homicide Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) of the San Francisco police force, the story couldn't be more bare-bones: something about a violent hippie organization called the People's Revolutionary Strike Force terrorizing the city with an assortment of stolen high-tech weapons and demanding millions of dollars in ransom money for them to cease their dastardly ways; but these milquetoast villains are so insipid and weakly drawn, and so lacking in menace, that we don't take them seriously for a minute. In an attempt to lend variety to the proceedings, the writers have added a female partner for take-no-guff Harry: Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), an ultra-green officer from the Records section who's been promoted to Harry's rank as a publicity stunt by the liberal mayor's office. She's never made a single arrest, and whenever she takes hold of her gun she might as well be trying to wrangle a snake; she's prissy and a prude, and the only reason the character isn't borderline unbearable is because Daly, a former TV actress, displays amazing reservoirs of variety -- she miraculously brings this conception-rather-than-character to life.

Of course, the movie's low contextual value wouldn't be as detrimental if the execution of the material had some verve, but James Fargo, making his directorial debut after doing duty as a second-unit director on a couple of Eastwood pictures, has no idea how to stage an action sequence or use the camera in even remotely expressive terms. An extended chase down the city streets and then onto rooftops is abysmally staged, along with a shoot-'em-up finale on Alcatraz Island that might as well be going down in a children's playground for all the ill-defined topology and zero tension. And the whole mess has been unflatteringly lit by Charles W. Short, making his debut, too, and who couldn't be more inept -- I've seen industrial-training videos with more visual panache. A small group of black militants has been thrown into the story even though they play no integral part, even though it does give that fantastic actor Albert Popwell an opportunity to strut his considerable stuff in just two brief scenes -- he has an understated magnetism that draws you to him with an effortless aplomb that so few thespians are capable of. As simplistic as the previous entries were, they were at least about something: the outrage over a legal system that seemed to give preferential treatment to criminals, and offered up nothing but roadblocks to the police trying to apprehend them and prosecutors trying to put them away. They were clinched-fist right-wing protests that resonated with primal force. By contrast, The Enforcer merely exists to milk a popular series character solely for his surface value: the kick-ass cop who's willing to be subordinate to his pencil-pushing superior and the political hambone of a mayor; and that's old-hat and trite. Perhaps if Eastwood had put some actual effort into things so we could take some joy in Harry's rebellious nature we'd be willing to overlook this stock movie cliche, but he gives a whipped, joyless performance. (Maybe disgruntled over the deserved critical beating he took for his godawful spy adventure The Eiger Sanction from the year before?)

Not only does the rotten dialogue make you wince more often than not ("If she wants to play lumberjack, she's going to have to handle her end of the log"), the violence is way too unpleasant to mesh with the several throwaway humor bits, which throws the overall tone out of whack. When Harry's initial partner and then an elderly security guard are viciously stabbed in the back with a huge hunting knife, their bodies and agony are lingered over with an insensitivity that's a real turn-off and makes you dread the killings to come. With the bad guys nothing but ciphers, especially the leader, who sports wicked orange-blondish, blow-dried hair and what looks like some dark mascara under the eyes (Harry mutters, "You fucking fruit" right before blowing him away), the violence is just violence because it's not coming from a source that's genuine, which only accentuates its offensiveness. You never get the sense that anyone (with the exception of Daly and Popwell) was actually having a good time during the production, that they were pooling together even an adequate amount of creative resources to make something that would exude "the joy of making cinema." Then again, the two screenwriters responsible for this mishmash haven't provided any groundwork for anyone to draw from: Dean Riesner actually co-wrote Dirty Harry, and Stirling Silliphant did the acceptable Shaft in Africa; together, they've thrown in a barrage of stock-movie cliches, implanted them onto a who-cares story, and tried to pass the whole thing off as something complete even though you can practically see the clunky parts falling off as the shaky narrative rattles along with the steadiness of an Edsel. Okay, there's a nice bit involving a small-time grifter who fakes heart attacks in expensive restaurants so he can get out of paying the tabs; when Harry shows up at the scene and tells him to scram without turning him in, the man is disappointed at being deprived of the ride in the screaming ambulance. Quite fitting in that viewers of The Enforcer will be disappointed and feeling more than a touch of indigestion from this distasteful debacle.

Skip it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1401&reviewer=327
originally posted: 12/02/11 02:40:08
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User Comments

12/06/11 Monday Morning Tyne Daly - lame death. Coulda done better. 3 stars
9/24/10 MP Bartley The action scenes are fine, but everything else inbetween ranges from mediocre to laughable 3 stars
3/08/08 Pamela White Clint makes the day 5 stars
1/16/07 David Pollastrini great action 4 stars
5/19/06 mr.mike fair sequel , with dopey villians and plot 3 stars
5/28/05 ann I've never forgiven them for killing off Tyne Daly 4 stars
5/17/05 J C Charron Gets better with time, in retrospect! 4 stars
3/23/04 KGB 'Dirty' Harry Callahan... Is one of the best next to John McClean, Max Payne & Solid Snake 5 stars
2/17/04 john sadly uninspired but it does have Eastwood 3 stars
12/25/03 Sugarfoot Enjoyable enough to watch on a rainy day. 3 stars
12/25/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Another Eastwood classic, but Tyne Daly (CAGNEY & LACEY) steals the show. 4 stars
9/30/03 Shane Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! May not be the best in the series & the most dumbest plot ever but... It's pure EASTWOOD!! 4 stars
7/04/03 Sam Moszynski Not much story here, but still a good entry into a great series 4 stars
3/20/03 Jack Sommersby Gets the job done, but it's a little too unpleasant. 3 stars
2/06/03 Steven This one of the best Thriller that I saw 5 stars
10/27/02 cheryl love it 5 stars
10/24/02 Charles Tatum Tyne Daly? 3 stars
12/11/01 R.W. Welch Efforts to humanize Dirty Harry just weaken his character. 3 stars
10/17/01 Peter This is my favorite Dirty Harry film. I LOVE IT!!!! 5 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Too serious, with a downer of an ending. 3 stars
5/19/00 tank Watchable but uninspired 2nd sequel to the brilliant Dirty Harry. 3 stars
12/04/98 Lord Of The Dunce Dirty Harry had started to tire by this one. Shouldn't have happened. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Dec-1976 (R)
  DVD: 01-Sep-2003

UK
  N/A (18)

Australia
  20-Jan-1977 (R)




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