A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won't make it into town alive.
A veteran cop, Murtaugh, is partnered with a young suicidal cop, Riggs. Both having one thing in common; hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers.
Picking up three years after the events in Magnum Force, a threatening terrorist group called, The People's Revolutionary Strike Force declare war to the city of San Francisco and demand a ransom to be paid, otherwise they plan to blow the city apart. While Inspector 'Dirty' Harry Callahan is at a limbo following his unorthodox method during a robbery, he's at it to dispatch the terrorist group, by playing their game by being more dirty than ever. But this time, he's got a new partner, which might prove the task to be somewhat more difficult than ever, unless the two can work together. Written by
In this third chapter from the Book of Dirty Harry Callahan, there's plenty of action as Harry breaks in a new partner and goes after a ruthless bunch, some self-proclaimed revolutionaries who are nothing more than common criminals, in `The Enforcer,' directed by James Fargo, and starring Clint Eastwood and Tyne Daly. And beyond the action, it's a film that manages to make a valid statement about bureaucratic nonsense, as well as the lack of common sense employed by those ensconced in the budding agenda of `political correctness,' who put an emphasis on image over purpose and results. Mostly, though, it gives the audience a chance to share vicariously in the triumph of good over evil, as Harry once again metes out justice in his own inimitable way.
After taking charge and cleaning up a hostage situation in a way that only `Dirty Harry' can, Harry (Eastwood) is assigned to a desk job in personnel. But when his partner, Frank DiGiorgio (John Mitchum) goes down on the job during the robbery of a munitions warehouse, Harry is back on the street, but with a new partner, Kate Moore (Daly), one of the first female inspectors in the country. And Harry puts her through her paces as they attempt to track down this particularly volatile gang, who seemingly put little value on human life as they cut their swath through the city of San Francisco and pursue their own `for the people' agenda, which in reality means they want to get their hands on as much cash as possible, and plan to hold the city hostage to do it. But they had better think again; because when they took down Frank, they inadvertently provoked the ire of Inspector Callahan himself, who does not take kindly to their sort to begin with.
James Fargo is in the director's chair for this one, and he comports himself well, recapturing all of the attitudes and elements that made the first two `Dirty Harry' films so successful. Fargo sets a good pace and keeps the story on at least an equal footing with the action, which keeps this one involving. Giving Harry a female partner puts some added interest into the mix as well, in light of the fact that this film was made in an era in which women were just beginning to emerge in such positions, on the screen or otherwise. `Cagney and Lacey,' for instance, was still some five or six years away, and Kathleen Turner's `V.I. Warshawski' wouldn't make an appearance until 1991. Initially, the film takes something of a patronizing attitude toward her, but Harry treats her as an equal from the beginning, and in the end, Inspector Moore emerges as a strong character, gender aside. Most importantly, that is not the focus of the filmmakers here, and the fact that Moore is a woman is little more in the overall scheme of things than a footnote in cinematic history; Moore is just another character in the `Dirty Harry' saga, and she's a good one (especially when compared to Harry's partner, Al Quan-- played by Evan C. Kim-- in `The Dead Pool'). And credit Fargo with insuring that it all blends together naturally within the context of the story, as well as the fact that he keeps the relationship between Callahan and Moore on task, and allows it to develop quite credibly. All in all, it's a good, collaborative effort from all concerned.
What really gives this one that ring of authenticity, however, is that Clint Eastwood is in top form, and even in his third outing as Harry seems more immersed in the character than ever. And, in the final analysis, story aside, it's the `Dirty Harry' character that makes these films so popular and successful. Creating a cinematic icon is no easy task, and that's precisely what Eastwood has done with Harry; and it's gratifying to see that he is willing to give that 110% at this stage of the game, in order to maintain the credibility of the character and the films, as well. A lesser actor would have taken this kind of success to the bank by now, while possibly allowing the character to slip into caricature rather than being concerned with keeping it real and convincing. It demonstrates what a pro Eastwood is, and why he commands the kind of respect afforded him within the industry.
Taking on the role of Kate Moore had to be a challenge for Tyne Daly, and happily, she succeeds quite well with it. She makes her character convincing by allowing her to develop in a `real time' manner; she doesn't just jump in there, full blown and ready to take on hardened criminals. Initially, she displays some intimidation in Harry's presence, which gives their relationship some realism from the beginning. After all, Harry IS an intimidating guy; add to that the fact that this is a new job for Moore, which in reality would create a level of discomfort for anyone, anywhere. And Daly has tapped into all of that with her portrayal of Moore, making her a very believable character, and one of the most memorable from among the five `Dirty Harry' films.
The supporting cast includes Harry Guardino (Lt. Bressler), Bradford Dillman (Capt. McKay), DeVeren Bookwalter (Bobby Maxwell), John Crawford (The Mayor), Samantha Doane (Wanda) and Albert Popwell as `Big' Ed Mustapha (look for Popwell in the original `Dirty Harry' as the Bank Robber; in `Magnum Force' as pimp J.J. Wilson; and again in `Sudden Impact' as one of Harry's partners, Horace). A well made and entertaining film, `The Enforcer' keeps the `Dirty Harry' series alive, well and on solid ground; in retrospect, it seems a shame now that Eastwood waited seven years to make the next installment, `Sudden Impact,' as with the dreadful `The Dead Pool' in 1988, it all ended with barely a whimper. The first four, however, more than make up for it-- and that's the magic of the movies. 8/10.
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