Starring Clint Eastwood, Tyne Daly, John Mitchum
Scott’s Review #1,330
Reviewed January 2, 2023
The Dirty Harry film series is pure, gooey 1970s machismo entertainment.
Featuring a vigilante-type police detective who rids the world of the bad guys is pleasure personified if not all that realistic. In these films there exists only the good versus the destructive and social issues, if they are explored, are not the most relevant part of the film but more reasoning as to why the events are occurring.
Nonetheless, the films are top-notch in action with quality gun fights and violence creating a powerful crime thriller film franchise that still holds up well.
They are much better than the similar yet uninspired and poorly acted Death Wish films featuring Charles Bronson.
The Enforcer (1976) is a third of five films from 1971 until 1988 following the 1971 masterpiece Dirty Harry and the nearly as good Magnum Force in 1973.
This one provides a slightly progressive and feminist approach that would also continue in 1983’s Sudden Impact and adds some much-needed humor creating a lighter touch.
Feminism is the inclusion of a female cop due to a new affirmative action initiative who goes toe to toe with the masculinity and conservatism of our main character.
Officer “Dirty Harry” Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is reassigned from homicide to personnel after his latest use of excessive force exhausts his outranking superiors. Demoralized, he angrily assumes his duties while a new case disrupts the San Francisco bay area.
A new terrorist group calling themselves the People’s Revolutionary Strike Force organizes a series of crimes in San Francisco, hoping to enrich themselves. Led by Bobby Maxwell (DeVeren Bookwalter) they wreak havoc and create fear.
When they kidnap the mayor (John Crawford) and steal rockets and rifles for their next attack, Harry and his new female partner, Inspector Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), must stop the terrorists.
To measure up to 1971’s Dirty Harry is a nearly impossible feat but The Enforcer continues the rhythm with largely the same basic script. A main part of the fun is watching the grizzled Callahan feud with his superiors and being reduced to working with a female cop.
Naturally, he and Moore eventually become buddies and I like the lack of sexual chemistry. She’s not interested in his affection and neither is he so their relationship is focused on serving and protecting the public.
Daly is terrific in the role of Moore which led to her career-defining role in the television series Cagney and Lacey. Rather than playing her as a bitch she is warm and determined to immerse into a man’s world.
She’s a great character but unfortunately is not explored as much as she could have been.
The filmmakers also keep the setting of San Francisco intact which is a wise move and a treat for those moviegoers that love a good exterior sequence or two.
A fabulous final sequence finds the events of the film heading to a Giants game at the historic Candlestick Park and finally a showdown at Alcatraz Island. These trimmings are so necessary to fans anticipating the juicy and pulsating locales of the populous city.
No, Eastwood is not the greatest actor in the film but he is the best at playing Callahan. He carries the film seamlessly and will make conservatives smirk as he endures the irritations of liberal-minded decision-makers.
A weak explanation of the real motives of the terrorist group is unimportant. It’s the violence, the thrills, the chases, and Eastwood and Daly that make this movie pure fun.
The Enforcer (1976) doesn’t challenge or add to the creativity of cinematic art but provides a shoot-em-up experience featuring a confident and charismatic main character. Forever immersed in the good tidings of 1970s cinema is enough to continue the successful string of Dirty Harry films.