THE DEAD POOL (1988) Reviews and overview

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The Dead Pool is a 1988 American action film directed by Buddy Van Horn, from a screenplay written by Steve Sharon. The movie stars Clint Eastwood (Tarantula; Revenge of the Creature) as Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. It is the fifth and final film in the Dirty Harry film series, set in San Francisco, California.


The story concerns the manipulation of a dead pool game by a serial killer, whose efforts are confronted by the hardened detective Callahan. It co-stars Liam Neeson (The Haunting), Patricia Clarkson and features Jim Carrey, each of whom obviously eventually went on to greater film fame.

Fame finally catches up with Harry Callahan. His testimony against crime kingpin Lou Janero puts the mobster in prison and Callahan on the cover of a San Francisco magazine as the city’s ace crime fighter. Callahan discovers he has been assigned a partner: Asian American, martial arts-skilled partner Al Quan (Evan Kim).

They are then assigned to investigate the death of rock singer Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey), killed in his trailer outside a meatpacking plant during filming of a music video for a slasher film directed by Peter Swan (Liam Neeson).


Later, Dean Madison, Swan’s executive producer, is shot and killed during a Chinatown restaurant stickup. Harry and Quan see the holdup and rush to stop it; Harry manages to gun down all of the robbers inside the restaurant, except for one who manages to escape out the door but is subdued by Quan’s expert martial-arts skills.

When they examine the dead producer’s belongings, they discover a list in his pocket with Harry and Johnny Squares’ names on it. It turns out that the dead producer and Swan are carrying out a “dead pool” game in which participants try to predict celebrity deaths, either by natural causes, old age, or as a result of working in dangerous professions.

In a turn of events, another celebrity on Swan’s list, movie critic Molly Fisher, is stabbed and killed in her condominium, by an intruder claiming to be Swan…


“There is nothing remotely gritty or disturbing about it, which is what made the other [Dirty Harry] films work. That 70’s, almost documentary-style suited Harry Callahan and it’s all sadly missing from this film. That’s not to say it’s a terrible film, there are enough one-liners to make it entertaining…”  The Action Elite

“The movie just tries too hard.  Be it the shooting of Neeson’s movie with Jim Carrey playing a metal rocker or the cameos of Guns N’ Roses (the movie uses their song ‘Welcome to the Jungle’), the tone is way too light. The most laughable scene in the movie looks like it is straight out of a Naked Gun movie and it involves a way too long car chase between Harry and a remote control car.” Basement Rejects


“The film is smart, quick, and made with real wit. It’s never just a crude action movie, bludgeoning us with violence. It’s self-aware, it knows who Dirty Harry is and how we react to him, and it has fun with its intelligence. Also, of course, it bludgeons us with violence.’ Roger Ebert

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