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The Dead Pool


‘…easily the worst film in the franchise, with a perfunctory climax and only a couple of passable lines…’

The fifth and final Dirty Harry movie is something of a footnote in film history, the underwhelming finale of an increasingly ragged cop-show. It’s the only box-office flop of the series, and came after star Clint Eastwood had turned down a number of potential sequels, notably the script that became Code of Silence. That film would have given him a robot partner, but the Dead Pool teams Harry with a Korean, played somehow by Kentucky Fried Movie star Evan Kim. Fortunately, The Dead Pool doesn’t attempt to lean into issues of race; instead, Buddy Van Horn’s film looks at media and censorship, but not in a way that offers much of a coherent thesis.

So get this for a synopsis for a Dirty Harry film. Liam Neeson plays flamboyant film director Peter Swan, who is making a new horror film starring drug-addled rocker Johnny Squares, (yes, Jim Carrey). After attending a funeral in which original line-up Guns and Roses can be spotted amongst the mourners, Harry Callaghan is sent to investigate the overdose that killed Squares, and teams up with an inquisitive newscaster (Patricia Clarkson) to solve the crime…

Looking back, all Dirty Harry sequels are genre pieces with a specific theme; vigilantism (Magnum Force), terrorism (The Enforcer), feminism (Sudden Impact) , and The Dead Pool has a novel, modern angle; there’s a list of celebrities including Harry that the killer is hoping to off, and that kinda gets things back to the Scorpio killer featured in the original film. But Don Siegel would never have countenanced such silly gimmicks as Harry toting a massive harpoon gun, or a ludicrous chase in which Harry battles a remote control car loaded with explosives. This is a shark-jumping moment for the franchise, and perhaps Eastwood never looked back to his iconic role again.

Dirty Harry V is easily the worst film in the franchise, with a perfunctory climax and only a couple of passable lines .‘Opinions are like ——-, everyone has one,’ and “I guess you’re s—t out of luck’ Such profane spit-ball dialogue is hardly on a par with Harry’s best, but the draw here has to be that wild supporting cast, all of whom contribute career worst performances. And that media satire is beyond lame; sure, Harry used to be a bad-ass, but he’s sh*t out of luck here, and so are you if you’re watching this.






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    • …is the correct answer. I saw Sudden Impact at the cinema, and it wasn’t great, but this is a big step down…

      • That’s where we disagree. “Sudden Impact” could be my favorite, equal with the Siegel. Directed by Eastwood himself and the very expressionist cinematography of Surtees give a value that “Dead Pool” (this title is a curse) has not.

        • Interesting…I didn’t hate Sudden Impact and there are great sequences, but I think I’d hoped for more straight up cop action at the time. Having gifted myself a boxed set of Dirty Harry movies for Christmas, I’ll be returning to this text with your endorsement ringing in my ears…

  1. I have to admit that I did not know the factoid about Code of Silence: it was a Dirty Harry sequel? Yikes. I did see Code of Silence in the theatre and it was so forgettable that I never thought about it again . . . until now. I’ll have to see if I can find a copy streaming online.

    • I’m not sure that ‘have to’ is the right phrase for either of these films, but I guess I was interested enough to see them both. I think Clint would have been better making Code of Silence and skipping the robot bit…

      • Even without the robot, I don’t even remember the plot. And you know how Wikipedia pages ramble . . . I can’t even read it to get the plot. It’s easier to watch it, later today.

          • Yeah, that was just awful. But what do you expect from the guy who gave us Rhinestone and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

            • I attempted to find something good about Rhinestone earlier this year, but no, it’s impossible…

              • “When you talk about actors, Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier are actors. They can do anything. Then you have your personalities, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, [and] me. When they deviate too much from what audiences expect, they don’t do very well, do they?” — Chuck Norris, from the Wikipage for Code of Silence

                I know Stallone wanted to “stretch” . . . Oscar was another of his boondoggles.

                  • Oy! That movie. Not memorable. And forgettable. Good call, as he was “stretching” into comedy with that one.

                    • And yet, as always, discussing it makes me want to see it! Hero and the Terror too…

                    • Again, seen it . . . and don’t remember it . . . uh, there was an “unstoppable killer,” ala Jason Vorhees, or something? Hey, not for trying in getting that Stallone gold. . . .

    • It’s atie for bottom place, I can see that. The Enforcer isn’t quite so silly, and silly isn’t what you want from a Dirty Harry film. Obviously, The Enforcer isn’t good, but it’s not quite so far off message as this shambles….

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