The Enforcer ★★★½

JMN's Fuzzball Marathon:
Day #15 - The Enforcer (1976)

"You really are a dirty bastard, ain't you, Harry?"
"The dirtiest."

Case report: Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned a female partner as he tries to stop a terrorist group that are holding San Francisco to ransom.

Exhibit A: the trailer.

Arresting officers: Clint Eastwood is back as the SFPD's own "Dirty Harry" Callahan, who in this film is transferred from Homicide to Personnel. Initially he is partnered with Inspector Frank DiGiorgio (John Mitchum), and subsequently Inspector Kate Moore (Tyne Daly).

Verdict: As with most threequels (Goldfinger, Return of the Jedi, Last Crusade, etc.), The Enforcer marks the point where the Dirty Harry movies refined their formula. Alas, where there's a formula, there's usually a sense that a series is running out of steam, and while The Enforcer is still a good cop movie, it cannot hope to match the raw energy and simple brilliance of Dirty Harry or Magnum Force.

First, the positives: naturally, Clint Eastwood makes Harry as gruff and appealing as ever; Tyne Daly hits a nice balance of confidence and vulnerability as Kate Moore; the relationship between the two of them is well-written and believable; and as with all Dirty Harry movies, the villains are a bunch of truly despicable and memorable bastards (and like Scorpio, apparently they're hippies too - I'm sensing a bias).

For me personally, The Enforcer is somewhat lacking in its direction. Some of the action is well-crafted, but no set piece here really sticks in the mind like those from the first two films. It's not bad per say, but it could certainly be better. Furthermore, the film has easily the weakest musical score of the series - it's telling that it was the only entry where the music wasn't composed by Lalo Schifrin.

Regardless of its shortcomings, The Enforcer remains an entertaining instalment in the Dirty Harry franchise, and a satisfying cop movie in its own right.

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