The Enforcer ★★★

70s Crime Month II

Poor old Frank DiGiorgio, he's managed to successfully survive the previous two Dirty Harry movies, but with the department apparently running out of officers, he's now paired up with Harry and sadly doesn't make it to the end, or even to the end of the first act. May he rest in peace.

Which means of course that Harry needs a new partner and what with his partners being black in the first movie and Mexican in the second, this time around there's only one place to go and sure enough this time around it's an actual female woman, Kate Moore, played by Cagney or Lacey, who arrives straight from a desk job as part of an affirmative action program.

So not only is Harry saddled with a woman, but one with no experience whatsoever on the job. More importantly Tyne Daly is saddled with a character who is given no opportunity to display her qualifications and abilities, but she is force to spend the movie in heeled shoes and a skirt which means that she's tottering around all the time, while clinging desperately to a shoulder bag.

We all of course know where the movie is heading with this portrayal, Harry will be skeptical and dismissive of her but in the end she will prove her worth and show that she has been misjudged by him. but mostly she just comes across as no more than a loyal dog who is willing to do anything to help her master.

The film opens, naturally, with a random crime which Harry will resolve in his own inimitable style, this time a hostage situation in a liquor store which, despite time not being of any particular essence, he fixes by driving his car through the shop front, executing the criminals and leaving all civilians somehow (more or less) unscathed.

And then it's on to the real story which revolves around a group calling themselves the People's Revolutionary Strike Force who steal a load of weapons, including disposable bazookas (this will be important later on) and proceed to hold the city of San Francisco to ransom, ultimately by kidnapping the mayor.

Whether or not you agree with the politics of the first Dirty Harry film, the one thing it did do was to play against our expectations with regard to the attitudes of Harry's superiors to his methods. They had respect, albeit a grudging one, for the way he got the job done, and in the end he's the one who throws his badge away.

Here the series has reverted exactly to what we expect of the story of the maverick cop, Harry is surrounded by pen pushers who have no appreciation for how tough it is out on the streets, he cannot conceal his contempt and when he's insubordinate he gets suspended. Luckily his puppy dog is there to help him close out the case regardless.

It's disappointing the already the series has become just another example of the tried and trusted cop-on-the-edge style movies when it had given itself every opportunity to do something new and different in this very film. Having ticked off his boss he's transferred out of Homicide and into a desk job. And personally that's where I would liked him to have stayed for the rest of the movie, pulling his gun on staplers that constantly jam up on him or recalcitrant photocopiers or forms that require the kind of patience that he clearly doesn't have.

The conclusion naturally has to up the stakes in terms of location, so we go from an old quarry in the first to an old aircraft carrier in the second to Alcatraz in this one. Again, as with Magnum Force it's a little bit hard to believe that anyone can just rock up to this particular venue without anyone challenging them.

Despite the increasingly stereotypical characters surrounding Harry, the lack of a Lalo Schifrin score and the slide into predictability, it's not all that bad. It comes in at just over the 90 minute mark and in awarding the movie a score I am already recognising that I need to allow wiggle room for my judgement on the last two movies in the series.