Sudden Impact (1983)

Sudden Impact (1983)

“Go ahead — make my day.”

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.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Clint Eastwood Films
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Pat Hingle Films
  • Rape
  • Revenge
  • Serial Killers
  • Vigilantes

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
  • 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.


2 thoughts on “Sudden Impact (1983)

  1. First viewing. Only for ‘Dirty Harry’ fans (whoever they are).

    A slick commercial product. Broad strokes. Lots of violence and gunfire. Some awkward dialogue; some odd logic.

    I find Locke’s character action repetitive and without nuance (though she is given her ‘moment’ at the end). And why is the lesbian (an evil one, of course, since it’s that kind of film) inexplicably bisexual at one point?

    A rather ugly film that leans heavily on the junky side – but if that’s your idea of entertainment…..

  2. ⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    The least of the Dirty Harry films and I definitely include The Dead Pool (1988) in that comment much as most seem to rate that as the least.

    The central concept of a rape victim seeking revenge really needs much better writing and a much more artistically serious project to frame it. This could’ve been that had Eastwood been more interested in the making of this on an intellectual or artistic level; I get the impression that he was contractually obliged or needed to make a hit.

    All credit to Sondra Locke who is superb in this; she really gives it her all and develops a sympathetic anti hero. Sadly, her story and that of her sister are submerged in a gimmicky populist flick.

    Definitely not must see although it is obviously watchable. The only aspect of any historical note is that this was where the “punk, make my day” catchphrase really entered slang.

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