Sondra Locke

S is for Sudden Impact (1983)

Trigger warnings for scenes of rape.

After angering a gang of criminals, San Francisco Detective Harry Callahan’s (Clint Eastwood) bosses send him on an out-of-town case until things calm down. But things are never quiet for Harry. In the seaside town he ends up there’s Jennifer (Sondra Locke), a rape victim who is exacting her revenge on her attackers, and soon Harry ends up following the case.

Sudden Impact is the fourth film following Eastwood’s “Dirty” Harry. It’s been a good few years since I’ve watched the first three so I can’t compare it to them in terms of quality or Harry as a character’s story arc.

That being said, this film sees Harry as a man who sees murderers as murderers with very little grey area to move in. This means having the serial killer he’s chasing having a very understandable motive as she was a victim of a heinous crime, means there’s some interesting ground to cover in terms of Harry’s character. Unfortunately, this aspect is never really fully explored besides some lingering gazes and Jennifer being able to keep up when verbally sparring with Harry.

Jennifer is a compelling character and it’s refreshing to see her be allowed to be angry and scared, and how she seeks “justice” is never framed as a bad thing – especially once the audience knows her motives. The scenes when she confronts her rapists are powerful and Locke gives a steely performance in those moments.

The car and foot chases sometimes feel a bit dated, but the score is a great at increasing the tension in the sequences. The final act is exciting as Harry begins to put everything together and he and Jennifer both become caught up in danger.

Sudden Impact is an intriguing detective story that puts the killer almost on par with the hero in terms of screen time and understanding. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Gauntlet (1977)

the gauntlet elenasquareeyesHard but average cop Ben Shockley (Clint Eastwood) is assigned to escort Gus Mally (Sondra Locke) a witness in custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, but a lot of people are literally betting that they won’t make the trip and everyone seems as if they’re out to get them.

The Gauntlet is super fun. It’s action-packed and violent and it never really lets up. From the moment Shockley and Mally meet the sparks fly. They are polar opposites and they definitely clash early on in their relationship especially because Shockley doesn’t really believe that there’s someone out to get them.

It’s nice seeing Eastwood play a cop that isn’t really in control and isn’t respected by his colleagues. It’s unusual seeing him be a bit of a fish out of water but (naturally) he rises to the challenge and turns out he can be a bit of a badass in a pinch.

The violence in The Gauntlet really is quite violent. There’s helicopters with machine guns, cars get blown up and a more realistic and frightening moment is when Mally is almost raped. It’s shocking and unapologetic and it’s a bit jarring coming after a string of action set pieces.

After all the action and Shockley and Mally often beating the bad guys, the ending is a bit of a let-down. It just seems that those responsible for putting Shockley and Mally through hell don’t really get a decent enough comeuppance.

Fun and action-packed The Gauntlet is sometimes silly but it’s always a good time. 4/5.