The Dead Pool (1988)

dead pool poster 1988 movie clint eastwood
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10
Movie Info

Movie Name: The Dead Pool

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): July 18, 1988

MPAA Rating: R


Nice ponytail Neeson, what are you, some type of girl?

Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) has finally hit the big time!  The huge take down of Lou Janero (Anthony Charnota) has put him in the public eye…something that Harry has never wanted.  Assigned a new partner Al Quan (Evan C. Kim), Harry investigates the death of a rock star named Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey) on the set of a slasher movie and learn that the director Peter Swan (Liam Neeson) is part of a game called the dead pool which tries to predict celebrity deaths.  Harry learns that he’s on the dead pool and now he’s a target along with reporter Samantha Walker (Patricia Clarkson).

Directed by Buddy Van Horn, The Dead Pool is an detective action film.  Follows 1983’s Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool is the fifth and presumably final entry in the Dirty Harry series.  While Sudden Impact was the most profitable Dirty Harry, The Dead Pool is the least profitable Dirty Harry.

Dirty Harry was an institution if you grew up in the late ’70s or ’80s.  The gruff, no-nonsense detective was the epitome of a cop who got his man even if it mean breaking laws.  With such big footsteps created by himself, it is sad to see Harry Callahan end with a whimper.


Wait, wait, I got this Fire Marshall Bill character I’d like to try out

The Dead Pool doesn’t really follow Dirty Harry format.  While the change is nice if watching the Dirty Harry films all together, as a stand alone film, The Dead Pool doesn’t even feel like it is in the same vein as the other films.  That was a big complaint by fans since Harry spends most of the time following the rules and being a target.

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.  The chase goes on and on and it is possibly the best remote control car ever (that thing is fast!)


Guns N’ Roses cameo! Get ’em Slash!

Callahan once again is on the romantic prowl and a Moonlighting-style relationship with Patricia Clarkson’s reporter.  The relationship really doesn’t go anywhere and simply ends up a device for Harry to once again have to save a hostage from the killer.

The other basic problem is the whole idea that Harry is just now a celebrity.  He’s solved the Scorpio killing, he’s stopped renegade officers, he saved the mayor of San Francisco on Alcatraz, and stopped a sex killer, but no one’s really noticed him?  Clarkson’s character pulls out a binder of Harry’s feats, but it is really unrealistic that Harry wouldn’t have been all over TV repeatedly with his actions.

Most of the problems of with The Dead Pool come from a good idea with a weak script.  The idea of the dead pool would have been good with a stronger villain like Scorpio from the first Dirty HarryThe Dead Pool is the shortest of all the Dirty Harry films, so it isn’t much of a commitment, but it really isn’t worth the time.  If you are going to watch Clint Eastwood’s great character, just end with Sudden Impact.

Related Links:

Dirty Harry (1971)

Magnum Force (1973)

The Enforcer (1976)

Sudden Impact (1983)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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