Sudden Impact (1983)

“Go ahead — make my day.”

Sudden Impact Poster

Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is sent to the seaside town of San Paulo to investigate a rash of serial killings committed by an artist (Sondra Locke) seeking revenge for a brutal gang rape.


Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary is overly generous in his assessment of this uninspired fourth installment in the “Dirty Harry” franchise, helmed by Eastwood himself. He refers to Eastwood’s direction as “remarkably assured”, noting that “he makes the most of his action scenes, effectively uses color filters and light and shadows to create bleak, mysterious ambience, and gets an especially interesting performance from Locke, truly an underrated actress”. But it’s DP Bruce Surtees who really deserves credit for the impressive cinematography, and Locke’s soulful performance is the only one in the film worth watching. Indeed, Eastwood fails to elicit any subtlety whatsoever from the rest of his cast: the gang of rapists — including a “mean, foul-mouthed lesbian” (Audrie Neenan) and the gang’s psychotic leader (Paul Drake) — are particularly one-dimensional; meanwhile, Pat Hingle as San Paulo’s defensive sheriff is sadly underused. Joseph Stinson’s hardboiled script contains plenty of zingy one-liners (including the infamous “Go ahead — make my day”), but is ultimately too focused on providing “Dirty Harry” with dramatic opportunities to kill off Bad Guys to make the most of what should be a compelling tale of justifiable revenge and vigilante romance.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Sondra Locke as Jennifer Spencer
    Sudden Impact Locke
  • Bruce Surtees’ effectively dramatic cinematography
  • Lalo Schifrin’s score

Must See?
No — though “Dirty Harry” completists will naturally want to see it, and of course all film fanatics should probably check out the film containing the #6 top movie quote of all time.


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