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THE ENFORCER

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Clint Eastwood, Tyne Daly, Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman
Director:  Jerry Fielding
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  See Review
Length:  96 Minutes
Release Date:  June 3, 2008

“You really are a dirty bastard, ain’t ya, Harry?”

“The dirtiest.”

Film ***

Dirty Harry, everyone’s favorite hot-headed cop with an ice-cold demeanor, is back for a third installment in The Enforcer, a film that once again doesn’t live up to the reputation of the original, but is at least a more entertaining ride than its predecessor Magnum Force.

This time around, with a tighter length, a new female partner, and a better concept for bad guys than just fellow renegade cops, director Jerry Fielding breathes a bit of new life back into the franchise, as Harry and his favorite handgun once again take to the streets of San Francisco for a little hard-edged justice as only he can deliver.

The bad guys this time are a radical left-wing terrorist group obviously modeled after the Simbionese Liberation Army…only this time, the long haired punks aren’t kidnapping heiresses, they’re stealing heavy duty weapons and threatening to hold the entire city hostage.

Inspector Harry Callahan finds himself on the case with a new female partner (Daly, perhaps in a warm up to her Cagney and Lacey heyday)…not his ideal, perhaps, but even Harry can learn a thing or two about women without losing his cool along the way.

The film mixes violence with humor, keeping the bad guys so one-dimensional and underportrayed that they seem like easy and worthwhile fodder for Harry’s gun…we don’t feel any qualms about rooting for him to pull the trigger.  What the movie lacks, obviously, is the dark intensity that made the original movie such a landmark American classic.  The Enforcer is an entertaining yarn, but doesn’t offer much food for thought.

The picture’s climax takes place at none other than Alcatraz, where the bad guys have stowed the kidnapped mayor and are ransoming him for $5 million.  It’s a delicate negation that Harry is supposed to take no part in…care to guess how it ends?  Yep…Harry has his own way of administering justice, and he does just that…one shot at a time.

Eastwood continues to be the perfect embodiment of the hot-but-cool Callahan, who’s as sure with his .44 Magnum as he is about his methods of crime fighting.  And Ms. Daly makes a nice turn as the rookie inspector assigned to both watch Harry’s back and win his confidence at the same time.

Missing, however, is a good kiss-off line, but that can be excused.  The best one of them all was just one more film away in Sudden Impact, and if you can guess the one I mean, you’ve made my day!

Video ***1/2

Once again, Warner delivers a top-notch anamorphic transfer.  The look of The Enforcer on DVD is damned near perfect, with amazingly natural looking coloring, razor sharp images, and remarkable levels of detail from foreground to background, and from close-ups to deep focus shots.  The only MINOR complaint is that a couple of extreme low-lit images exhibit a touch of grain and a little bit of shimmer from the age of the print…at no other time is it apparent, though.  Overall, this is a remarkable job, and one that will continue the tradition of making Harry fans extremely happy.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 mix is once again superb, with plenty of cross-cutting action that brings all stages to life, and good use of the subwoofer to punctuate action scenes.  From the loud gunplay to the subtle ambient effects, this is a quality mix all the way, with clear dialogue and a punchy musical score to boot.

Features ***

The disc contains a fun director commentary, plus a short documentary “Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood: Something Special in Films” which offers a few brief insights into the making of The Enforcer, plus a featurette on violence in cinema...always topical.

Summary:

The Enforcer is not quite a great film by any means, but it is one of the better Dirty Harry sequels.  It’s not particularly deep or thoughtful, but it is cool, mindless action fun for ninety minutes.  Fans of the vigilante cop could definitely do worse than to have this good looking and sounding disc from Warner Bros. in their collection.

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