Sudden Impact (1983) – Clint Eastwood

Lalo Schifrin returns to score Dirty Harry’s next adventure which sees Eastwood not only starring as Dirty Harry Callahan, but serves as the film’s producer and director.

After causing more problems for the city brass, and not following the law in his own investigations, Harry is assigned to a homicide case that will get him out of San Francisco, and to a little northern California town, where he’s supposed to lay low and do a background check on the victim.

But, of course, this small town is where all the action is going to take place, because that’s where the event that precipitated the murder took place. Ten years earlier, Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke) and her sister were brutally gang raped by a group of friends, now, Jennifer is hunting them down, and her first target is Callahan’s murder victim.

There is the question of justice, law, vengeance, and, yes, white privilege. Harry as a character and as a film series has not aged as well as some of the other action films of the 80s. He’s only concerned about the law as it applies to others, not him, due process doesn’t seem to matter to him, and he’s more than happy to dole out violence to others if it delivers what he thinks is right.

Of course, you could say that about a lot of action films, especially those of the 80s, but, the Dirty Harry series tries to be a little more gritty than most of the big budget popcorn action films of the time, wanting to ground the film in a heavier reality and it’s not a place most people would want to live.

Harry gets paired with a dog in this episode, and there’s some interesting action moments, but not all of them pay off, and there’s an odd chase sequence involving a cop motorcycle and a retirement tour bus. Even with the way its shot you can tell that they aren’t driving that fast, and throughout the film one gets the impression that Eastwood is still refining his directorial craft when it comes to the action cop genre.

There are moments when Sudden Impact feels like a take on the modern western, especially the showdown at the end of the film.

It’s interesting, this is the film that gave us, ‘Go ahead, make my day,’ and I remember it being a big thing, and the whole series was popular during the time, but with a re-watch now, this film, and the entire series that I’ve worked my way through, with the exception of the first film, isn’t as good or as strong as nostalgia would suggest. And in the context of the modern era, they are actually pretty troubling.

Lets see how the last one, The Dead Pool, turns out…

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