The Enforcer is so gimmick laden and heavy handed that you really have to admire how entertaining it remains in spite of this.
I was interested in what this movie had to offer, especially with the tag I kept seeing about how "Harry has a partner...a woman!" In the wake of 70's womens lib I kinda knew where the movie was going. Seeing the badguys faces right up front and center was odd as it shows them off to us as a radical young militant group instead of mysterious and eerie like the previous films.
In The Enforcer, Dirty Harry is back and up to his old tricks with the usual smart remark to his idiot superiors who are always ready to hand hold with the criminals Harry puts away. Harry has always had a rough no-nonsense way of handling criminals until those civil liberties get in the way. Yeah, Harry crashed that car through a store and killed all the bad guys and none of the hostages were killed, but some were hurt and the store and car are wrecked. In the movie and in the first couple of minutes, we see Harry slapped with the mandate of doing more with less. Don't pull your gun even when someone is pointing one at you. Uphold the law but make sure you don't hurt anyone, that kind of thing.
Other things are shaken into play by having a cute and plucky female promoted to Inspector to meet a quota of progression in the dept, something Harry bristles at. Not that he doesn't want a woman partner (never mind the history of Harry's partner's survival rate) but that it's a case of getting diversity rather then whoever will make a good cop regardless of race or gender. Harry's grilling of the potential female Inspector Moore is great and the way the female interviewer continually questions Harry for the wrong reason paints the portrait of imbeciles in charge only hearing and not listening to what Harry is saying.
I did like the way that Harry and Moore's relationship develops. Moore makes mistakes including standing right behind a rocket launcher before it goes off but quickly shows that she is capable despite her limited street time and makes friends with Harry.
The Pros are a little more action then the previous films, a great foot chase and seeing Harry getting a real professional friendship with Moore who isn't a total uptight snob like she could have been. The villians while not having a real central voice short of one of the thugs who gets more screen time then others show a more stronger force for Harry to deal with. A genuine and unapologetic group of radicals who will hurt people facing Harry who is told to mellow out and not kill too many potential criminals.
Thats the con. Harry has had before and since more and more suits breathing down his neck to keep him in control and with the stupididy of suits facing of against a force that could have spray painted in childrens blood on the side of they're van "WE WILL KILL YOU" you can see how this one is a little on the ham handed side in getting the message across. In the first Dirty Harry film, you really got mad when Harry caught Scorpio and had to turn him loose cause Harry violated civil rights laws. Here it almost comes preinstalled that the police captains will certainly just surrender to the criminals and if Harry so much as even takes his car down to a gas station on the other side of town where the criminals are, he'll be suspended.
Like all the Dirty Harry movies, there isn't a bad one in the bunch (at least not an unwatchable one in the bunch) but this is where things start to slip before they pick up again. The Enforcer has some good ideas but I think they needed some flattening out to make really work. Put them in front of Harry's car next time he drives one through a grocery store to flatten them.
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