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The Dead Pool (1988)

Action & Adventure movie directed by Buddy Van Horn

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It's Time, Harry, It's Time

  • Apr 1, 2004
This is the last of five "Dirty Harry" films in which Eastwood stars as a San Francisco police detective. By the time of its initial release (in 1988), Eastwood had aged and times had changed but Callahan's non-negotiaable values and unorthodox methods had remained essentially the same. In this film, he investigates a pool which attracts bets on which of eight celebrities will be killed. (Several are.) Although this basic premise is implausible, Callahan takes full advantage of every opportunity to accuse the news media of glorifying, hence encouraging (albeit unintentionally) serial killings by focusing so much attention on them.

Samantha Walker (Patricia Clarkson) is a case in point. Given the power of her personality on television and the thrust of her ambitions for a career in journalism, she is an obvious "target" for Callahan's criticisms of the news media. (Of course, she and he become involved romantically.) There are humorous elements and moments such as Liam Neeson playing a horror film director and the remote control toy car which pursues Callahan for several blocks, obviously a parody of car chases in Bullitt and other films. Lalo Schiflin's musical score is quite effective. Other than Neeson, however, most of the cast members seem listless under Buddy Van Horn's direction. (Yes, that's Jim Carrey in the role of Johnny Squares, one of the victims.) The fact that much of this film seems tired or recycled suggests to me that it's time for the Callahan series to be retire. It has been commercially successful while enabling Eastwood to refine his acting and (in Sudden Impact, 1983) directing skills. People are still buying or renting one or more of the five films, all of which also appear on television, so it looks like Callahan will be with us for many years to come.

Among the many reasons I admire Clint Eastwood so much is the fact that, as he as become older, he has allowed that to be indicated on screen; better yet, he has played roles appropriate to his age and addressed aging issues in many of them. Most other actors (and yes, actresses) star in many films over a period of many years during which the aging process takes its toll on them. However, given the skills of make-up specialists and what new cosmetic technologies make possible, these actors (and actresses) continue to portray characters many years younger than they. Often, older male actors are cast opposite a romantic lead young enough to be their daughter. That is seldom true of older female actors. By the way, I still think Erica Barry should have selected Julian Mercer rather than Harry Sanborn in Something's Gotta Give.

Apparently Eastwood agrees with Harry Callahan: "A man's got to know his limitations." Consider the evolution of the Eastwood persona from Tightrope (1984) through Unforgiven (1992), In the Line of Fire (1993), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and Absolute Power (1997) to True Crime (1999) and Space Cowboys (2000). Hopefully other roles appropriate to Eastwood's age await his talents as an actor. As Mystic River (2003) clearly demonstrates, his talents as a director are undiminished by the 31 years since Play Misty for Me. On the contrary, they are greater now than ever before.

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More The Dead Pool (1988 movie) reviews
review by . December 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Dead Pool was the 5th and final of Dirty Harry's big screen adventures and after the tepidness of Sudden Impact, Harry's swan song could have ended worse.      Harry Calahan is making news after he just put away a major mob figure but wants nothing of the fame he has suddenly gotten or the mob hitmen who continue to harass him.  Meanwhile a schlock film maker  has gotten himself involved with a "dead pool" a list of celebrities who they think are …
Quick Tip by . December 31, 2010
Fun and lighter final outing for Dirty Harry and his adventures in San Fransisco with Harry being put on a list of celebrities marked for death. A little repetitive in places but enjoyable in others.
review by . September 10, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Callahan is the same as always     Cons: ...     The Bottom Line: “It's your dying day  We all float down here in the dead pool  You'll float too my dear in the dead pool” ~ Phantom       Good old Inspector Harry Callahan has always been a favorite of mine and they couldn't have picked a better person to take on the role than Clint Eastwood. This is the final segment in the long running movie …
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After the drudgery ofSudden Impact, the fourth and worst sequel toDirty Harry, no one could have expected the fifth to have any signs of life. ButThe Dead Poolis fairly inspired, even playful--check out a "chase" scene between Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan character and a remote-controlled toy car wielding a bomb--and it ended the long-running series on an unexpectedly positive note. This time, Callahan investigates a series of murders that appears to be on a "death list," while becoming romantically involved with a television reporter (Patricia Clarkson). Jim Carrey has a small but memorable part as a doped-up rock star, and Liam Neeson is on board, too. Directed by Eastwood surrogate Buddy Van Horn (Any Which Way You Can).--Tom Keogh
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Director: Buddy Van Horn
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 1988
DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
Runtime: 91 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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