Sudden Impact [DVD]
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From the Back Cover
Sensitive to outcries of police brutality, the superiors of San Francisco Detective Harry Callahan have sent him on an out-of-town assignment until things cool down. But wherever Harry goes, things just get hotter.
Clint Eastwood hits the mark again in Sudden Impact. Callahan's older, dirtier and the world hasn't gotten better. Which means this fourth Dirty Harry movie (which Eastwood also directs) is explosively exciting, as Callahan tracks a traumatised rape victim (Sondra Locke) coldly gunning down her bygone attackers. Through the five Callahan films, the lawman always struck a powerful chord. But Sudden Impact is particularly potent, fuelled by the line that became a national catchphrase: "Go ahead. Make my day."
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This time, Dirty Harry himself took control of the moviemaking process. "Sudden Impact" has a more polished, sleek filming style, but Clint Eastwood's tight, brutal direction and steely-eyed performance make this as gritty a 80s noir as you can ask for. And like the best movies of this series, it dances along the fine line between law and justice.
"Dirty" Harry Callahan (Eastwood) is having his usual clashes with the legal system over his butt-kicking, take-no-prisoners style -- especially when he accidentally causes a prominent mobster to drop dead during his own daughter's wedding. Awkward. So Harry is forced to take a vacation, despite the fact that the mobster's hitmen are now out to kill him.
Meanwhile, a young woman named Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke) who was gang-raped along with her sister, is taking bloody gruesome revenge on the men responsible. This isn't much of a spoiler, since she admits this early in the movie. Now Harry finds himself facing vigilante justice vs. a corrupt local police force, and may have to put himself on the line to save a killer.
After the stifling genericness of "Enforcer," it's nice that "Sudden Impact" gets back to the central theme of the Dirty Harry series -- the timeless clash between justice and the law, between vigilantism and corrupt police forces. Between the deadly femme fatale, the prickly anti-hero and the moral murk, it feels very much like a modern noir story.
Clint Eastwood really displayed his directing chops here, long before he became as well known a director as an actor. The direction is sleeker and more polished than the previous three movies, but it's underscored by a sense of bloody chaos that is only lightly held in check. He also knows quite well that we want to see horrendous, repulsive characters get their just desserts, and he unleashes plenty of wonderfully tense action scenes, but a rather bleakly satisfying ending.
And Eastwood really brings in a wicked sense of humor. An early scene involves him casually interrupting a robbery at a diner, claiming that he just came in to gripe about his coffee -- and then he utters one of the two lines that Dirty Harry is known and loved for: "Make my day."
And despite a gap of seven years between these movies, Eastwood seems to have renewed enthusiasm for the role -- Harry is all squinting, prickly gunslinger who exists in his own law-enforcing zone, with his own moral code. He's a truly fascinating character who both scares and fascinates, and Eastwood is absolutely brilliant at showing the character's intricacies.
Sandra Locke is also quite good, playing a pale, shy, sylph-like artist with a cold inner rage -- exactly the last person you can envision going off and killing people. And Paul Drake is absolutely scary as Mick, and every scene containing him leaves you craving his death at... SOMEBODY's hand. Harry or Jennifer, either will do!
"Sudden Impact" yanked the Dirty Harry series back on track, and Eastwood's astounding skills -- both behind and in front of the camera -- are nothing short of amazing. It's a dark, bleak story that is sometimes hard to watch, but definitely worth seeing.
This film is virtually non-stop action from start to finish with a large amount of humour thrown in as well. It is also worth mentioning though that "Sudden Impact" contains its fair share of bad language and violence (including a flashback rape scene) that may offend some people.
In this movie Harry uses two .44 Magnums - his usual Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver and an awesome Automag Pistol so the bad guys really don't stand much of a chance do they? For me, this is the second best film of the series, after the original "Dirty Harry" (1971), and I particularly liked the ending of this film. The brilliant Argentinian composer Lalo Schifrin once again provided a pulsating music score and Clint was the producer and director as well as the star.
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