Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Dead Pool

Directed by Buddy Van Horn and screenplay by Steve Sharon from a story by Sharon, Durk Pearson, and Sandy Shaw, The Dead Pool is the story of a police inspector who learns he’s part of a dead pool in which celebrities are targeted for murder as the man learns he’s also a target. The film is the fifth and final film of the Dirty Harry series that finds Harry Callahan become the target as he tries to protect others that is part of this dead pool as Callahan is once again played by Clint Eastwood. Also starring Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, and Evan Kim. The Dead Pool is an exciting and dazzling film from Buddy Van Horn.

The film revolves around a death list created by a horror filmmaker as a joke to see what celebrities would be killed as the pool unfortunately turns real as Harry Callahan’s name is in the list as he’s already being targeted by mobsters for putting a mob boss in prison. It’s a film that has Callahan already being this unlikely public figure who is hounded by the press for an interview which he repeatedly declines though he would befriend a reporter in Samantha Walker (Patricia Clarkson) who would also receive this list as she realizes some of the fallacies of what she does. Steve Sharon’s screenplay starts off with Callahan being commended for his work in putting a mob boss to prison where it seems that he’s adapting to the ways that the San Francisco Police Department wants but trouble often follows him. Especially as there are those who think he’s next in this hit list created by the filmmaker Peter Swan (Liam Neeson) who is seen as a suspect as the murders were done in the same way he has characters killed in his films. Yet, Callahan doesn’t think it is Swan at all though he still doesn’t trust him while Callahan’s new partner Al Quan (Evan Kim) would make a discovery into who it might be.

Buddy Van Horn’s direction is quite simple in its approach to action and suspense while also playing into this growing culture of horror films and music videos as well as the increasing reliance of the news wanting to get exclusives. Shot on location in San Francisco, the film definitely go for something that is straightforward in its visuals as Van Horn would use wide shots for some of the locations but would use close-ups and medium shots for some of the suspense including the killing of a few victims. One sequence that is one of the most exciting involves Callahan and Quan in their car as they find themselves being chased by a remote-controlled car with a bomb as it is fun to watch. Though the film’s climax is predictable and a bit lacking in terms of high-octane action, it does have a payoff as it has Callahan be the badass despite the fact that the reveal of the film’s killer is disappointing. Overall, Van Horn creates a thrilling and fun film about a police inspector targeted as part of a death pool gone horrible wrong.

Cinematographer Jack N. Green does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is straightforward for many of the scenes set in the day with some lights for some of the interiors as well as scenes at night. Editors Ron Spang and Joel Cox do terrific work with the editing as it play into the action and suspense with some rhythmic cuts for the chase scenes. Production designer Edward C. Carfargno and set decorator Thomas L. Roysden do fantastic work with the look of the film sets that Swan is creating as well as the police station where Callahan works at. Sound editors Robert G. Henderson and Alan Robert Murray is superb for the sound effects that are created as well as the natural sound such as the gunfire and such that is captured. The film’s music by Lalo Schifrin is wonderful for its jazz-based score that feature some synthesizers and orchestral elements to play into the suspense and drama.

The casting by Phyllis Huffman is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from the rock band Guns N’ Roses as themselves, Bill Wattenberg as a victim of the killer who is killed by a bomb, Ronnie Claire Fisher as a local film critic who is on the death pool list, Michael Currie and Michael Goodwin in their respective roles as Callahan’s superiors in Captain Donnelly and Lt. Ackerman who are more concerned with the positive public image of the San Francisco Police Department rather than doing their job, Anthony Charnato as the mob boss Lou Janero that Callahan sends to prison as he is forced to make a vow for Callahan during his prison sentence, David Hunt as a troubled fan of Swan, and Jim Carrey in a terrific small role as a troubled rock star in Johnny Squares that is dealing with his drug addiction.

Evan Kim is fantastic as Al Quan as Callahan’s new partner as a Chinese-American who is a resourceful man that could kick some ass as he becomes the most stable partner that Callahan has while also being someone who knows how to stay alive. Liam Neeson is excellent as filmmaker Peter Swan as this arrogant horror filmmaker who created the list as a joke but suddenly goes wrong as he becomes a suspect as he tries to defuse the problem only to make things worse for himself. Patricia Clarkson is amazing as Samantha Walker as a local news reporter who is trying to do her work and get an exclusive interview with Callahan only to share in his views about the media. Finally, there’s Clint Eastwood in an incredible performance as Harry Callahan as the no-nonsense police inspector whose weapons are his wit and his .44 Magnum pistol as he copes with the sensationalism of the media coverage around him as well as the new and unknown enemy that is trying to kill him as it is Eastwood just playing it cool.

The Dead Pool is a remarkable film from Buddy Van Horn that features a winning performance from Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan. Along with strong supporting performances from Patricia Clarkson and Liam Neeson as well as some fun action scenes. It’s a film that does what it needs to do in being in a thrilling suspense-action film. In the end, The Dead Pool is a marvelous film from Buddy Van Horn.

Dirty Harry Films: Dirty Harry - Magnum Force - The Enforcer - Sudden Impact

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