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Film / The Enforcer

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The third film of the Dirty Harry series from 1976. Preceded by Magnum Force and followed by Sudden Impact. Callahan and his new female partner go after a terrorist group that has kidnapped the mayor.

Not to be confused with The Enforcer (1951), the Film Noir of the same title starring Humphrey Bogart.


  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Maxwell and his gang are an unsympathetic version.
  • Ax-Crazy: Maxwell is the stereotypical crazy ex-Vietnam veteran of The '70s. His Establishing Character Moment involves him calmly walking up behind a man and stabbing him In the Back with a knuckle duster knife, a manic look in his eyes the whole time. This is made explicit in the novelization which talks of the A God Am I thrill he got from his first kill in Vietnam.
  • Asshole Victim: The mayor's assistant is so much a sycophantic toady - a consummate yes man - that he might as well have a permanent snout on his face for all the sucking up and asskissing he does. If anything, he's so annoying that the terrorists improve the movie by murdering him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The mayor is saved and all the terrorists are dead, but so is Kate.
  • BFG: The LAW rockets.
  • The Bus Came Back: Harry's boss Bressler from the first movie returns for a supporting role after being absent in Magnum Force.
  • Call-Back: To De Georgio's "Too much linguini" in the first movie.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Kate does this drunkenly during a deleted scene.
  • Car Fu: In an early scene, when a criminal gang demands a getaway car, Harry gives them one: he gets in his squad car and rams the shop front where the criminals are holed up, taking them utterly off guard.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Kate's is "Don't concern yourself, Inspector" whenever she thinks Harry is trying to patronize her. Her dying words are, "Don't concern yourself...Harry."
    • Harry sardonically says "Marvelous" whenever he's irritated in the movie (which is a lot).
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: After Harry and Kate kill all the terrorists and save the mayor, a single helicopter arrives with Captain McKay on a loudspeaker announcing that they would be giving in to all their demands.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: When chasing the police station bomber Henry Lee Caldwell, Harry crashes through a skylight onto a bed where some people are filming an amateur porn movie.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Harry's protest of being reassigned to Personnel (saying it's for assholes) angers Captain McKay, as he was in Personnel for ten years. Harry's meek "...Yeah" is a combination of realizing he put his foot in his mouth and a sarcastic "you don't say?"
  • Disney Villain Death: Harry uses a fire hose to knock one of Maxwell's men off an Alcatraz tower and go plummeting to the ground below.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The film started out as a standalone film called Moving Target based on the Symbionese Liberation Army.
  • Double Don't Know: One of the terrorists wants to know something:
    Bobby: Did Wanda deliver the [Ransom Note] tape to the cops?
    Lalo: I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. I wasn't with her.
  • Double Standard: The SFPD sends in a SWAT team to stop the criminals when they think that the people with the stolen missiles are black supremacists. Once it turns out that they're mostly white, the department ponies up the ransom money.
  • The Driver: The Mayor has one who makes a brief attempt to escape Maxwell's trap, and after having his tires shot out, draws a gun and attempts to defend his boss before being shot by Maxwell and his men.
  • Hostile Hitch Hiker: The film begins with Maxwell having Miki in short shorts luring a couple of gas workers (whose uniforms and truck he wants to steal) out to the middle of nowhere, offering them some ice cold beers she's got in her fridge if they give her a lift. The younger of the two is willing and the older mocks him for his evident eagerness, but plays along. While the younger man is inside the house chatting her up, Maxwell stabs the older guy In the Back, then shotguns the young man as he leaves Miki's house carrying the beer.
  • Improvised Weapon: Harry uses a toilet plunger on an underworld figure's face to extract information from him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Harry disapproves of Kate's promotion to Inspector, not because she's a woman (although he does complain about the force being required to promote a certain number of women), but because she's never made a single arrest in her entire career and he has doubts as to whether or not a police officer with zero street experience could cut it as a Inspector.
  • Karma Houdini: No mention is made of anything happening to McKay for a manpower intensive, high-profile false arrest, or for giving into Maxwell's demands at the first opportunity.
  • Malcolm Xerox: The film features a black militant group based on both the Black Panthers and the Symbionese Liberation Army. That said, the only crime they are shown committing is decorating their hideout with stolen goods.
  • Missing Backblast: Averted. During the demonstration for the LAW rockets, Kate gets behind the shooter to get a better view. Harry pulls her away in the nick of time before the backblast can scorch her. Probably because Harry claims to already be familiar with the M72 LAWS.
  • Mood Whiplash: It's kind of jarring to immediately go from the sadness of Kate's death to Captain McKay flying in by helicopter, frantically announcing to Bobby Maxwell that he has his money just after Harry has blown Maxwell up with a LAW.
  • More Dakka: The terrorists rob the Hamilton Firearms Warehouse to take everything they can load in a stolen utility truck, which includes automatic rifles, explosives and LAWS rockets.
  • Nausea Dissonance / Vomiting Cop: During an autopsy when the surgeon removes the subject's brain, Harry is unaffected but his partner Kate is clearly looking queasy. A joke by the surgeon sends her over the edge:
    Autopsy Surgeon: Oh, Jesus H. Christ, Harry, come here and look at this! It's the damnedest thing I ever saw.
    Harry: What's that?
    Autopsy Surgeon: What it says: "Eat at Luigi's!"
  • New Meat: Moore may have 9 years experience as a cop, but she's spent her entire career in Records, making her woefully unprepared as a Homicide Inspector assigned to a high-profile counterterrorist case on her first day in her new department.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: In Harry's initial meeting with Kate Moore. Also the "fucking fruit" comment.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Harry posing as a client at the brothel where Miki used to work.
  • Oh, Crap!: Harry's reaction when Da Chief gleefully shows him his new partner, the same woman Harry opposed becoming a detective.
  • Pet the Dog: Lalo wanting to take Miki to a hospital after she's wounded at the warehouse.
  • Precision F-Strike: Just before vaporizing Bobby with a LAWS rocket, under his breath, Harry calls him a "fucking fruit."
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Harry gets reassigned to Personnel after ram-raiding a liquor-store robbery turned hostage situation.
    Harry: Personnel? But that's for assholes!
    McKay: (Death Glare) I was in Personnel for ten years!
    Harry: Yeah...
  • Reckless Gun Usage: While Kate might be forgiven for standing behind the guy about to fire the LAW rocket (she and the others are there because they don't know how the things work), the US Army instructor making the demonstration has absolutely no excuse for not checking everything was clear behind him before firing, or neglecting to mention the lethality of the back blast to the people he is supposed to be briefing.
  • Shout-Out: Series composer Lalo Schifrin may be absent from one Callahan entry, but his name certainly isn't. Though it did go to one of Bobby Maxwell's men.
  • Sole Survivor: Henry is the only member of the People's Revolutionary Strike Force to be arrested and survive, which also averts Black Dude Dies First.
  • Static Stun Gun: A taser is used during the kidnapping of the Mayor when he refuses to leave his limousine. As the weapon had just come onto the market when the movie was made, there's brief exposition among the villains on what it is.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: DiGiorgio, who had been a prominent figure in the previous films, is stabbed to death by Maxwell.
  • Taking the Bullet: How Kate dies.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: For once, Harry gets called out for the Cowboy Cop tactics he used for the liquor-store robbery (ramming a car into the store, causing severe damage to the place) and is actively punished by his superiors. Not to mention, the store owners sue over Harry's destructive tactics.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: Although assumed to be black radicals by Harry's boss, the terrorists are actually small-time white crooks in it purely for the money, while pretending to be radicals themselves.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kate during the film's climax.
  • Turn in Your Badge:
    • Harry embarrasses Captain McKay in front of the Mayor by pointing out that he arrested the wrong people including one who was going to help him find the terrorists, and that McKay wants to give him and Inspector Moore credit and a commendation for the arrest when they weren't even there. The Captain tells him he's suspended for 60 days. Harry angrily says to make it 90, so the captain suspends him for 180 days, then:
      McKay: Give me your star!
      Harry: [disgusted, hands McKay his badge] Here's a seven-point suppository, Captain.
      McKay: [angered] What did you say?
      Harry: I said stick it up your ass!
    • Then, at the end, after Detective Moore was killed and all the terrorists are dead, and he's been saved, the mayor tells Harry he's getting a commendation, basically for going off the reservation as a Cowboy Cop while on suspension for six months.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Averted, or at least downplayed; Harry and Inspector Moore show no sexual or romantic attraction to each other, merely mutual respect. Interestingly, the original script called for a romance, but Eastwood and Tyne Daly both agreed it would distract from the story.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The movie begins with Miki luring two gas company men into Maxwell's trap where Maxwell kills the two men before using their van and uniforms as part of his scheme.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Some of Maxwell's gang, like Tex and Wanda, really do seem to believe in their cause.
  • Western Terrorists: The main villains of this movie.
  • Writer on Board: Harry complains about Kate having effectively deprived a more talented male officer of a detective's badge via the force being required to promote a certain number of women, mirroring both Clint Eastwood's and co-writer Stirling Silliphant's own negative views of affirmative action programs.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When the girlfriend of one of the terrorists is gravely wounded by a police officer during a robbery, he asks Bobby to help him carry her back to the van. Bobby tells him she's dead and taking her with them would slow them down. Her boyfriend says she isn't dead. Bobby reiterates his opinion she's dead by emptying his revolver into her.
  • You Need a Breath Mint: Harry tells Captain McKay, after McKay gives Harry a too close dressing down, "Your mouthwash ain't makin' it".