“Dirty Harry” purists may scoff, but I find nothing wrong with “The Dead Pool,” the fifth and final go-round for Clint Eastwood’s gruff San Francisco detective Harry Callahan. It’s cheesy, yes, but enjoyably so.
Harry once again plays dirty when some Hollywood types play a “game” in which they gamble on celebrities they expect to expire within the year. Nothing wrong with that, until those on the list of egotistical director David Swan (Liam Neeson) start dying (including a young and then-unknown Jim Carrey) “ too many to be mere coincidence, just enough to be murderous crimes.
Romancing a TV news reporter (Patricia Clarkson) and teaming with a kung-fu partner (Evan Kim of “Kentucky Fried Movie” ), Harry sets to sniff out the snuffer, thus resulting in the film’s heralded showstopping set piece: a car chase between Harry’s vehicle and a remote-control car befitted with a bomb. It’s a parody of the iconic cat-and-mouse maneuvers up and down the San Fran streets in “Bullitt,” but it’s exciting in its own right.
Directed by Eastwood’s longtime stunt coordinator Buddy Van Horn, “The Dead Pool” is more comedic than its straight-crime predecessors, but its tone is appropriate for its era, one in which “Lethal Weapon” beget many a buddy-cop flick, paving the way for the likes of “Rush Hour.”
Warner’s new “Deluxe Edition” may not be all that, when compared to the treatment of the other sequels, but this cult fave now has a commentary from producer David Valdes. Give it a chance “ “Dead” is very much alive.