The Dead Pool - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Dirty Harry 2 Disc Special Edition; Magnum Force Deluxe Edition; The Enforcer Deluxe Edition (exclusive to the box set); Sudden Impact Deluxe Edition (exclusive to the box set); The Dead Pool Deluxe Edition (exclusive to the box set); Clint Eastwood: Out Of The Shadows – Feature length documentary DVD narrated by Morgan Freeman; 40 page hardcover book containing rare behind the scenes photos; Replica Harry Callahan wallet with Inspector’s badge and ID Card; Scorpio: Portrait Of A Killer 19” x 27” Poster: San Francisco Street Map detailing Harry’s hunt for the killer; Lobby art cards; Never-before-seen production notes and internal studio correspondence.
Synopsis: Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) faces a race against time to find a killer who is ticking off the names on a list of celebrities expected to die before the end of the year, particularly as his own name is on it.
Our verdict: After the unpleasant aftertaste of Sudden Impact, it was refreshing to find The Dead Pool restored the Dirty Harry franchise to the disposable appeal of The Enforcer. While certainly a pale imitation of the first two movies, The Dead Pool was a guilty pleasure that has gained cult appeal among Eastwood’s loyal fanbase.
It’s memorable for a car chase along the streets of San Francisco that placed Inspector Callahan against a remote controlled model car armed with explosives. No matter how critics at the time viewed the movie as a whole, most drew attention to that set piece, which is genuinely exciting.
It’s also notable for the presence of a very young Jim Carrey, who plays an early victim of the serial killer, as well as Liam Neeson, as a shlock horror filmmaker and chief suspect in the killings. The scenes between Neeson and Eastwood carry a great underlying tension.
Patricia Clarkson also does well as a reporter trying to get the lowdown on the man behind the Callahan myth, who eventually falls for his traditional charms, while Evan C Kim adds some extra muscle to the action sequences thanks to his martial arts ability.
The film’s catchphrase, meanwhile, “you’re shit outta luck”, had another catchy ring to it, especially when uttered by Eastwood with another over-sized weapon in his hand. But in terms of its ability to be taken seriously, the Dirty Harry franchise had long since drifted towards self-parody and there is a certain sadness in watching Eastwood go through the motions, whilst continuing to devalue a once formidable screen creation.
Taken on its own terms, The Dead Pool is an efficient action film, featuring an ageing hero and a memorable car chase. But it was a relief that Eastwood firmly decided to call it a day and hang up the Magnum for a final time at the end of proceedings. To coin another catchphrase from a different franchise, he’d obviously become too old for this shit.