Sudden Impact left an impact four movies into the franchise. Even in the 80’s, Dirty Harry managed to become fresh again. Even though Inspector Harry Callahan stops a diner robbery similar to the first movie, his latest catchphrase “Go ahead, make my day” is just as, if not more iconic than the original. I never realized the line came so late in the franchise. Although The Enforcer was meant to be the end of a trilogy, Clint Eastwood returned with more creative control. Sudden Impact is the only sequel directed by Eastwood himself. Which is probably why it feels more atmospheric and well-shot.
That being said, Sudden Impact is too dark even for Dirty Harry. It’s more like a “rape revenge” film with Sondra Locke playing the victim of a brutal assault on her and her sister. Locke was a longtime collaborator and romantic partner of Eastwood who feels more like the star of the movie. Despite Locke’s advancing age, Jennifer Spencer is a young artist who kills her assailants one by one. There’s an unmistakable divide between her story and Harry. Callahan is taking out crime bosses, sinking cars, and engaging in bus chases.
He leaves San Francisco for San Paulo in order to investigate the murders. There are no partners unless you count his bulldog. Albert Popwell returns as a much more helpful weapons supplier. Callahan is mostly ignorant of Spencer as the killer when they have a love affair. Her assailants are all nasty individuals who get what they deserve. Graphic violence is expected along with one random nude scene. Although the plot is uncomfortably realistic, Callahan still has to kill the final bad guy on top of a roller coaster. Sudden Impact is messy, but it made my day.