THE DEAD POOL (1988)

The conclusion of the DIRTY HARRY Marathon ends with more of a whimper than a bang. THE DEAD POOL is a rather uneven film. There were elements that I did like, but once again the parts don’t quite add up.


For a short run time, it does drag in spots especially due to a subplot involving Callahan’s successful arrest of a mob boss (amazing that he didn’t kill him in the first place). Because Callahan let this man live, he’s plagued at every turn by the Mob Boss’ minions who are tasked with getting revenge on our fearless detective. Maybe Dirty Harry has it right with just killing criminals. In this case, he certainly would have saved himself a lot of aggravation down the road. This film certainly proves he has a knack for taking out criminals with well-placed headshots. This does seem a lot less messy then just wounding them and letting justice be served in the courts.
 
The main story involves a “Dead Pool” game. A group of Hollywood insiders have decided to wager who will die first amongst a list of potential celebrities who already have caught the Grim Reaper’s eye. Though what the victor ultimately wins isn’t exactly made clear. The chief suspect is the horror movie director Peter Swan (played by Liam Neeson) who seems to be winning the game. The people on his list are being checked off like items on a grocery list. The first being the lead actor on Swan’s new film played by a young Axl Rose-esque James (Jim) Carey.
 
The major theme attempted in this entry is the concept of fame and celebrity. Even Harry Callahan has his brush with celebrity and eventually strikes up a relationship with a go-getter TV journalist (played by Patricia Clarkson). But those 15 minutes of fame have a dark side which can lead to an unhealthy infatuation with being in the spotlight. I did appreciate this subtext, but it’s not exactly deftly handled. All and all, THE DEAD POOL is a mediocre finale to a film series that started out with such promise.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2013