Sudden Impact ★★★★

JMN's Fuzzball Marathon:
Day #22 - Sudden Impact (1983)

"Go ahead... make my day."

Case report: A rape victim hunts her attackers in a small town outside San Francisco, where Inspector Harry Callahan (currently on suspension) is assigned to the case.

Exhibit A: the trailer.

Arresting officers: Clint Eastwood is back again as "Dirty Harry" Callahan, a SFPD Homicide Inspector who is sent out of town on a routine research assignment. His partner in Sudden Impact is Inspector Horace King, played by series regular Albert Popwell.

Verdict: While The Enforcer was initially intended to be the concluding chapter in a trilogy of Dirty Harry films, subsequent deals with Warner Bros. convinced Clint Eastwood to continue the series in exchange for funding his personal projects. I'm glad this was the case, as Sudden Impact is a more than worthy successor to the original Dirty Harry, and probably the second best of the sequels behind Magnum Force.

Sudden Impact was the only Dirty Harry movie to be directed by Eastwood himself (though he claims to have ghost-directed sections of Magnum Force), and his work here is excellent. The action is expertly shot, suspense is crafted perfectly, and there's some beautiful use of light and shadow to give scenes a sense of atmosphere. As a character, Harry remains as fascinating as ever: he's older and crustier, but still a tough-nosed hardass, and despite Eastwood's advancing age, he remains completely believable as an action lead. Case in point, this scene, which gave audiences the other greatest Callahan quote:

Exhibit B: the coffee shop scene.

Granted, the film's story is shared between Harry and victim-turned-vigilante Jennifer Spencer, so Sudden Impact wouldn't work if it didn't have a great female lead. Thankfully Sondra Locke (Eastwood's co star from The Gauntlet) does a fantastic job, making Jennifer feel relatable and likeable, despite her vigilantism. On top of that, the film has a solid supporting cast, including some of the most despicable, hateful villains to ever appear in a Dirty Harry movie. And believe me, that's saying something. If I had any criticisms of Sudden Impact, it's that there are plenty of memorable moments, but fewer memorable set pieces. Sure, there's a couple of cool chase sequences and gunfights, but nothing that quite matches the action highlights of the first two films. Still, at least Lalo Schifrin came back to do the music, which is pretty awesome.

Exhibit C: Lalo Schifrin's theme for Sudden Impact. Some sound effects included.

Smart, riveting, and edgy as hell, Sudden Impact is a tremendous cop film, and one of the best stories to feature Inspector Callahan. To steal The Enforcer's tagline, this really is "the Dirtiest Harry of them all."

Exhibit D: the final shootout. Those shots of Harry are too cool for words.

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