Friday, July 16, 2010

REVIEW: The Enforcer

The Enforcer
Director: James Fargo
Year 1976

The Enforcer is the third installment in the Dirty Harry series, and wouldn't you know it, Harry's at it again. With the same gritty feel of the first two films, The Enforcer deals with a group of terrorist hippies called The People's Revolutionary Strike Force, that set their mind on terrorizing the city of San Francisco. That is unless they get the large ransom that they've requested. Harry is assigned the case as usual, but this time he won't be doing it alone. Director James Fargo does an excellent job in bringing us back into the world of Dirty Harry and this entry is a seamless collaboration that melds perfectly with the previous two installments.

Harry's one smooth criminal killer.

Harry is as bad ass as ever, as he thwarts the bad guys at every turn. There's an amazing set piece that occurs right at the beginning of the film, where Harry must negotiate with a group of robbers as they hold a number of shoppers hostage inside a grocery store. He makes chit chat with the head robber and hears their demands, then Harry hops into the nearest cop car and drives the hulking beast straight through the store and begins shooting up the place, taking all of the bad guys out in one quick blaze of glory. It's a great sequence and shows us just why we love the character of Harry Callahan.

When Harry goes grocery shopping, he pays in bullets.

Of course, the aftermath of this chaotic scene is just as entertaining, as Harry emerges out of the smoky wreckage and says one of his smart ass lines. Just like the rest of the series, we are given some great one liners and stupendously witty sarcastic remarks that are sure to go down as some of the most fun filled lines in Eastwood's long outstanding career. The guy has a million of them, but the Dirty Harry series is ripe with some very memorable lines that will have you coming to terms with why you love this character so much and his impeccable dry sense of humor.

Jesus Harry, what the hell did you do?

We also have a great change of formula to the storyline in The Enforcer. Harry is given another partner but this time it is a police woman named Kate Moore, played by the strangely attractive Tyne Daly. Considering the great lengths that these films go to in showing the ever changing landscape of the police force and how Harry is slowly being left behind in a long forgotten age of hard nosed and gritty police work, it's nice that they've given him a partner that shows the morphing of gender roles in society at the time and the cultural movement of being more politically correct. The slow friendship that the two begin to build throughout the movie is quite pleasant to see unfold and it's a rather unique moment to see Harry beginning to soften a bit as he gets to know his partner better. 

Freeze dirt bag!

A Dirty Harry film wouldn't be complete without a superior to breathe down the neck of Harry and fight him at every turn. The person to fit this bill in The Enforcer is Capt. McKay, played by a cocky Bradford Dillman. Just like in Magnum Force with Hal Holbrook's character, Capt. McKay is equally as dickish to Dirty Harry, always trying to stop him from doing what he does best, bust up the bad guys. Dillman has been in a few great films in his career spanning from the 1971 monkey-tastic Escape From the Planet of the Apes, to the 1974 underground bat infested film Chosen Survivors, all the way to the brilliantly enjoyable 1978 film Piranha. He even gets another role in the fourth Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact, so needless to say the guy has been in a slew of genres and can perform in diverse roles. He does wonders for the douchebag role of Capt. McKay and ups the scale for other friendly nemesis' of Harry.

If I know Harry, shit is about to hit the fan.

The action is pretty fierce in this installment, with a lot of things blowing up courtesy of the inclusion of a bazooka that the terrorists carry around with them. A dramatic scene occurs when the terrorists are tired of being ignored and decide to abduct the mayor of the city. They attack his convoy at the edge of a raised draw bridge and proceed to blow the shit out of everything in the area. The scene is nuts and shows the cruel nature that these terrorists possess, as a female member of the group executes the bridge worker with a regret-less distain. The scene is a very remarkable Dirty Harry moment.

In this movie things go boom!

The fiery relationship that I mentioned earlier between Harry and Capt. McKay, sparks some very interesting and hilarious confrontations that result in some of the most outstanding lines in cinema history. One of the moments happen when Capt. McKay tells Harry that he's going to be transfered to personnel. Harry responds with, "Personnel? That's for assholes!" McKay calmly responds back with, "I was in Personnel for ten years." Harry smirks back as he exits the room, "Yeah." Now that's an outstanding exchange of words by two great actors that can really chew up a scene with their simple and entertaining banter.

Mister, I hate your mustache!

A similar moment occurs when Harry hands over his badge to Capt. McKay and gives one of the best lines that anyone could ever give when quitting the police force. Harry hands the badge over and says, "Here's a seven-point suppository, Captain." Captain McKay exclaims, "What did you say?" Harry barks back, "I said stick it in your ass!" Hot damn that is funny, especially when it is said with such authority and in all seriousness. That's one thing that Clint Eastwood excels in. He makes some of the most outlandish dialogue and tricky situations seem natural and normal within the cinema realm. That's a knack that he has carried on throughout his entire career. 

Now that's one way to get him to talk.

This film seems to suspend Harry in a constant state of being pissed off at the world, because for most of the picture he is interrogating everyone in sight, beating thugs till they talk, and just plain getting creative and using a plunger to make a sleazy porn man sing like a bird. It's pretty funny to see Eastwood gritting his death for 70% of the films run time, but it's great to see him work his frustrations out on the many poor saps that get in his way.

Harry's confessional turns ugly.

In the music department, this time Jerry Fielding provides the groovy soundtrack with an added hint of danger. Unfortunately, the previous films composer Lalo Schifrin, for reasons unknown to me, wasn't able to provide the music for The Enforcer, but was able to flavor his stylings throughout the rest of the series. Although Fielding took over the reigns for this film, you can hardly tell the difference for he blends Lalo's style into his own compositions in the movie. It also doesn't hurt that he's a long time collaborator with Eastwood, having scored for a handful of his films like 1976's The Outlaw Josey Wales, 1977's The Gauntlet, and the 1979 prison film Escape from Alcatraz. The familiarity between the two shows as Fielding melds with Eastwood's movements on the screen, complimenting his acting style and aiding in bringing out some expressive moments in the story.

A romantic boat ride for two.

The look of the film is on par with the rest of the series and the thanks goes to cinematographer Charles W. Short, whose had some past experience working on the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force, as second unit director of photography. The cinematographer from Magnum Force, Frank Stanley, must have been giving Charles some pointers because there is a striking resemblance between the look of both films. While not as expressive as Dirty Harry, the first entry in the series, Magnum Force and The Enforcer provide a pleasant looking aesthetic that compliments the daring visuals from the original film, all the while helping move the series into a modern direction.

Leave it on the doorstep and get the hell out of here.

In the thrilling conclusion to this film, we are brought to an inauspicious location located in the rundown prison island of Alcatraz. The location is absolutely perfect for the final confrontation between Harry and the terrorist group that has been plaguing the story throughout the entire film. The director uses this location to great effect as Harry infiltrates the prison walls and stalks through the hallways of this fortified relic. It's a great spot for the dramatic conclusion that is both rewarding in its demise, but bittersweet for the price it pays on our main character Harry. 

And boom goes the dynamite!

The Enforcer has everything that you'd want to see in a Dirty Harry film. It's got action, drama, humor, and most of all it has Clint Eastwood in top form. The direction is diverse yet threaded within the story, making for a driven narrative that flies by in entertaining fashion. The music gels well with what we've come to expect from the series and the overall look of the picture is scattered with traces of eye candy, which doesn't quite rival the beautiful compositions that we were blessed with in the original Dirty Harry tale, but has a flavor of its own that opens the gate to a new generation and era for Harry to run amuck in. I highly recommend this film to Dirty Harry fans the world over and to anyone that loves to see Clint Eastwood bare his teeth and pull his trigger, multiple times with bloody results.

4 out of 5 stars   Another Great Entry In The Dirty Harry Series!


  1. You have to be joking. This film was so corny and badly directed.

  2. Nope, not joking. I think it's a pretty fun movie, don't really see any reason to bash it for being corny or badly directed, even though I just don't see it. It's not oscar worthy by any means, but to condemn it to being a film that could only be a joke to like is being rather harsh. I view it as just a fun entertaining ride that's not meant to be taken as a high end crime drama, but a fun 70's cop film. Nothing more nothing less, but I could see if you were expecting something else that'd you'd be dissappointed. Thanks for checking out the review and sorry you didn't enjoy the film, it's actually a pretty good time if you give it a chance.

  3. I never miss this movie whenever it's on the box; it's a personal favorite. And as you said, it's very entertaining and a great entry in the Dirty Harry series.

  4. Yeah Mark, it's definitely entertaining. It's one of those films that you can't help but sit down and watch when it's running on TV. Great stuff.