The third film of the Dirty Harry series. 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 1951 Film Noir of the same title starring Humphrey Bogart.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: Maxwell and his gang are an unsympathetic version,
- 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.
- 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.
- Disney Villain Death: Harry uses a fire horse to knock one of Maxwell's men off an Alcatraz tower and go plummeting to the ground below.
- 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.
- 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.
- Honey Trap: The film begins with Maxwell having Miki lure a couple of gas workers (whose uniforms and truck he wants to steal) out to the middle of nowhere with the implicit offer of sex.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Harry disapproves of Kate's promotion to Detective, not because she's a woman, 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 Detective.
- Knife Nut: Maxwell uses a knife several times to kill people.
- Malcolm Xerox: The film features a black militant group based on both the Black Panthers and the Symbionese Liberation Army.
- 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 Tear Jerker of Kate's death to Captain Mc Kay 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!"
- Noble Bigot with a Badge In his initial meeting with his female partner. Also the "fucking fruit" comment.
- 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 LAAWS 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.
- 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.
- Taking the Bullet: How Kate dies.
- 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, the captain turns it Up to Eleven by suspending him for 180 days, then:
Give me your star! Harry: [disgusted, hands McCay 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.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Some of Maxwell's gang, like Tex and Wanda, really do seem to believe in their cause.
- 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".