The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

THE DEAD POOL (1988) *** ½

The Dead Pool was the first Dirty Harry movie I ever saw as a kid.  I loved it then and it still remains the best of the Dirty Harry sequels.  20 years later, it's become even more fun since it features such up-and-coming superstars as Jim Carrey and Liam Neeson in small roles.  The Guns n’ Roses music certainly helps too.


The plot has slimy horror movie director Peter Swan (Neeson) playing the titular game in which you make a list of famous celebrities and whoever’s list contains the most dead celebrities at the end of the year is the winner.  But there’s a killer on the loose murdering everyone on Swan’s list.  First, junkie rock n’ roller Johnny Squares (Carrey) is murdered, next an annoying movie critic gets stabbed, then a talk show host gets blown up and finally the murderer comes after Swan.  Oh yeah, and Dirty Harry is on the list too and he ain’t too happy about it either.


The film kinda takes an anti-horror movie stance, but that’s okay because The Dead Pool is one heck of an action flick.  The action scenes are all expertly done by director Buddy Van Horn.  Van Horn was Clint’s stunt coordinator on tons of his movies and while his style isn’t as flashy as Clint’s was in Sudden Impact, he sure knows how to film people getting blown away.


The best scene comes when the psycho tries to kill Harry using a high speed RC car filled with explosives.  The toy car chases Harry’s car up and down the hilly streets of San Francisco and climaxes with a great explosion.  This scene is highly improbably and downright silly but it also happens to be a shitload of fun.


Clint’s a little older in this one but he still knows how to pull the trigger of his .44, so it’s all good.  Evan C. Kim from Kentucky Fried Movie makes a fine addition to the never-ending line of Harry’s latest ill-fated partners and Patricia Clarkson is pretty good as a TV reporter/nominal love interest.  Neeson is great as the shady film director and Carrey is fun to watch in his brief, but memorable role.


I could’ve done without the lovey-dovey subplot where Harry takes the reporter on dates and she tells him about herself.  These scenes slow the flick down but not too badly.  There’s also a subplot borrowed from Sudden Impact where a bunch of Mafioso try to gun down Harry every twenty minutes or so.  While it kinda seems out of place with all the dead celebrity stuff, I’m not going to begrude Harry any chance he can get to blow away scumbags. 


As with every Dirty Harry movie, there’s got to be a catchphrase.  This time out, Harry says his line in a Chinese restaurant while breaking up a robbery.  Harry tells the perp that he forgot his fortune cookie, then cracks it open and reads:  “You're shit outta luck!”  Not Harry’s best catchphrase to be sure, but it works, particularly in the end when he reprises the line after shooting the villain with a harpoon gun. 


The Dead Pool is of this writing, the final installment in the Dirty Harry franchise, but I’m still hoping that Clint will go the Rambo route and revive the character again.  I’d love to see a geriatric Harry blowing away scumbags.  At any rate, The Dead Pool is a fitting close to the series and is a top notch Dirty Harry movie.

Tags: action, clint eastwood, d, dirty harry series, sequel
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