Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Film Review: THE DEAD POOL (1988, Buddy van Horn)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 91 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, Evan C. Kim (CAVEMAN).
Tag-lines: "Dirty Harry Just Learned A New Game."
Best one-liner(s): "Fuck with me, buddy, I'll kick your ass so hard you'll have to unbutton your collar to shit. " or maybe "You're out of bullets. And you know what that means... you're shit outta luck."

This movie is utterly ridiculous, even by Dirty Harry standards. Since 1985, Clint has only acted in films that he himself directed- with three exceptions. One is Wolfgang Petersen's IN THE LINE OF FIRE. The other pair are two of Clint's most hated films- THE DEAD POOL and PINK CADILLAC, both directed by Clint's "stunt double," Buddy van Horn. I have a conspiracy theory to accompany this factoid, but now is neither the time nor place for such an exposé.

Back to THE DEAD POOL. This film is insane. Jim Carrey in a hair metal music video set to Guns 'n Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

Liam Neeson as a sleazy movie director. Harry's new catchphrase is "You're shit out of luck! (which is at least better than his catchphrase in THE ENFORCER, where it was "Marvelous").

DIRTY HARRY series composer Lalo Schifrin tries to update his sounds for the 80's with disastrous results. There's outrageous social commentary that hits you over the head like a ton of bricks- the media loves to report on blood and guts! Violent horror films spawn violence! All Asian American cops know karate! Yup, it's that kind of movie. There's a high speed car chase involving a remote-controlled toy car- with a bomb strapped to it!

And there's a lot of black-leather-glove-wearing-killer stuff that's extremely reminiscent of Dario Argento! If you like DIRTY HARRY movies, though, you'll still be along for the ride.

Clint is Clint, and the female foil this time around is Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson, who, as always, is formidable. And, if you're still thirsty for more Dirty Harry after this, there's always THE ROOKIE, which is DIRTY HARRY 6 in everything but name.

Or, you could just watch this:

-Sean Gill


Mike B. said...

Apologies for commenting years after the fact but I just caught this one on the old Comcast cable box and I just had to weigh in. Loved, loved, loved this one for the first 80 minutes: the fantastic action film cliches (bad guys who always miss, angry police chiefs yelling at the hero), Clint cruising through his lines on autopilot, Liam Neeson's (!) mullet-ponytail, and indeed that was a role that truly only Jim Carrey could play (and in fact, if you think about it, his 5 minutes here pretty much sum up his entire career - from the over-the-top visual comedy to the heavy "acting" bits). However, that finale made me feel a little guilty. Now, normally, I would try not to nitpick a small detail like the hero shooting an unarmed mentally ill person with a harpoon gun; but for Chrissakes they actually went out of the way to have a psychiatrist diagnose the guy as a multiple personality case beforehand - it just took the fun out of it for me. And just when it seemed like Harry was softening up a little! Anyways, hope you explain that Clint/stuntman conspiracy theory one day!

Sean Gill said...

Mike B,

Thank you for your observations– truly a ridiculous movie. As for the end: this sort of thing happens to me frequently, too. You're cruising along, enjoying the mindless potboilin', and then BOOM– a rape scene that seems designed only to titillate; racism that isn't tempered by unaware Cannon wackiness; or a mentally ill man blasted with a harpoon gun. Certainly puts a bad taste in the mouth. When I saw this previously, I think I'd had too many Schlitzes and been too wowed by remote control car chases to comprehend the minutiae of the moment, and it didn't bother me much at the time, though it very likely would have if I'd been operating at 100%. Or maybe I was too busy formulating my Buddy van Horn conspiracy theory? (which I'll have to rewatch PINK CADILLAC before I can truly lay it out).