Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Gauntlet (2008)

The GauntletThis review refers to the Warner Bros. DVD edition of "The Gauntlet"....

From the moment Ben Shockley(Clint Eastwood)steps out of his car and an empty booze bottle falls out, we know this is not the usual "Dirty Harry" character we'd been used to up to now. Ben is a cop who's chances for greatness seem to be fading with him.

Eastwood directs as well as stars in this film and we see his brillant directoral style taking hold here.

The Phoenix P.D. seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel when they assign Shockley the job of escorting Gus Malley, a seemingly unimportant witness from Las Vegas back to Phoenix for a trial. Ben's been looking for his big break on a big case and it doesn't look like this will be it with this guy. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, Ben discovers that Gus is no guy. Gus Malley(Sondra Locke), is a local prostitute and unwilling partcipant in the journey back as well. This is not "a hooker with a heart story" though, this pro is as hard edged as they come, but she does have a brain!

The action starts as soon as they leave the jail. Someone is going to make sure that these two never make it to trial. Vegas is even giving odds against them. Everyone's after them..the mob, the cops, they even made the mistake of angering a group of bikers along the route and they're out for revenge as well. They hardly know who to trust, as they get shot at from all angles, cars blow up, they are set up and beat up. What Gus knows can cost them their lives, but Shockley is now determined to bring his prisoner in at all costs and rises to the occassion and must break through an impassable barrier set-up to keep him at bay.

It's edge of your seat drama, thrills, and fun, as Gus and Ben trade quips and get in a little romance(we couldn't expect any different with Eastwood and Locke)along the way.As usual Clint surrounds himself with the finest talent. Pat Hingle, William Prince, and Bill Mckinney turn in excellent performances as well as Eastwood and Locke. There's also a terrific jazzy score by Jerry Fielding.

The film made in 1977 looks great on this DVD transfer. It is in a widescreen on a dual layer format. The picture looks good. Clear and sharp with good color. There was occasionally a little purplish tint in places, but it didn't take away from the enjoyment of the film. The soundtrack remastered in the 5.1 Dolby Stereo was also good. The music sounded great and the dialouge always crisp. Not too much in the way of bonus material if that's what you're looking for, there's a filmography on Eastwood(his was the only one I was able to access) and a theatrical trailer. It may be viewed in French(Mono) and also has subtitles in English and French as well. You can bet on this one!

5 stars to a great Eastwood action film that can be watched again and again.

Get the Popcorn ready for this one and enjoy.....Laurie

also sold(when available) in 2 pack:The Gauntlet/True Crime

also recommended:

City Hall/Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

The Clint Eastwood Collection (In the Line of Fire/Unforgiven/Bronco Billy/Dirty Harry/The Outlaw Josey Wales/The Beguiled)

(see my reviews for film details)

I read years ago that "The Gauntlet" was originally intended to feature the star matchup of Clint Eastwood and Barbra Streisand, but after Eastwood was warned by the Warner Bros. brass of La Streisand's diva tantrums on the set of "A Star is Born" he nixed the idea and cast his "Josey Wales" costar Sondra Locke instead. Admittedly, a Eastwood-Streisand matchup would have made this film a major blockbuster instead of the solid hit it was, but I'm glad it never happened. The pair would probably have had no chemistry whatsoever and Streisand would have been unbearably shrill in the role of "two bit hooker" Gus Malley. Besides, Locke is excellent in the role and proves a terrific sparring partner for Eastwood. Yes, her subsequent pairings with the legend were less than satisfactory, but for one bright shining moment, Locke's talent would shine brightly.

"The Gauntlet" actually works strictly because of the Eastwood/Locke chemistry and not because of the unbelievable plot. Eastwood plays Ben Shockley, a self-described "dumbass cop" and alcoholic who is sent by Phoenix's shady new police commissioner Blakelock (William Prince) to Las Vegas to extradite Malley, who is the only witness to a mob trial. It becomes obvious from the start that Shockley has been set up and by whom, and the two don't even make it to the airport before they are being chased across the desert by mob assassins. You'll figure out who's behind everything long before Shockley, but for once, his ineptitude makes sense, since he was sent to do the job because of it. The plot turns when Shockley figures it out and decides to prove the brass wrong by delivering Malley to the steps of Phoenix city hall, providing he can get through the impenetrable barrier (or "gauntlet") of policemen sent to stop him.

Like I said, the plot is unbelievable. Shockley and Malley dodge so many bullets and escape so many sure death circumstances a total suspension of belief is required to fully enjoy the nonsense. And the final five minutes is stupid beyond belief, since we are asked to believe the entire Phoenix police force would stand by and watch three people being shot and do absolutely nothing. However, the film is fast-paced and the action scenes are expertly mounted and the film never drags for a single moment in 109 minutes. Eastwood directs with economy and style and with tongue firmly placed in cheek, and for once, the lightning pacing many have yearned for in his recent, more leisurely paced films. And the performances are universally excellent, especially by Locke, Pat Hingle as Shockley's concerned partner-turned-patsy, Michael Cavanaugh as a seemingly sympathetic assistant district attorney, and '70's Eastwood regular Bill McKinney, who is absolutely hilarious as a smarmy constable taken hostage by the desperate pair. In fact, anyone who thinks Locke can't act should watch the expert interplay between her and McKinney when he decides to have fun insulting her and she turns the tables on him, twisting the screws until he explodes. This scene alone is worth the price of of the DVD, and it should serve as a rebuttal to Locke detractors everywhere. I also liked the subtle way Eastwood and Locke's relationship turns from adversarial to actual love and affection. Nowhere in the script is there a specific moment where they fall in love, they just do, and they make the transition believable strictly through their interplay.

The film makes great use of Nevada/Arizona locations and has a terrific jazz score by Jerry Fielding, who heavily borrows from gospel standards like "A Closer Walk (my Lord to Thee)." In fact, the film is littered with religious symbolism, but why is a mystery. In all, the entire production is a solid, professional piece of work by the entire Eastwood team at Malpaso. And while it will never be considered in the same class as such top-drawer Eastwood directorial efforts as "Outlaw Josey Wales," "Unforgiven," and "Mystic River," it remains to this day a solid entertainment that seems to improve with each viewing, just as long as you shut your brain off completely at the end.

As for the DVD, WHV has done better. However, at least it's in panavision widescreen instead of the pan-and-scan that the VHS copies contain. And could we have a little more than the standard theatrical trailers for extras? All in all, it rates ***1/2 (out of *****)

for the film and **1/2 for the DVD presentation.

Buy The Gauntlet (2008) Now

Though it gets lost in the "Dirty Harry" shuffle, "The Gauntlet" (1977) is an underrated action drama with more emphasis on characterization than bullets. In a change-of-pace role, Clint Eastwood plays a down-and-out Phoenix cop who faces seemingly impossible odds and endless corruption when he is assigned to escort a Las Vegas prostitute (Sondra Locke) to trial. Needless to say, Clint's slimy boss (William Prince) wants to make sure he doesn't get the job done. Stylishly directed by Eastwood, the film moves at a fast clip and benefits from strong performances. Interestingly, Eastwood's character fires his gun only twice and never kills anyone. The elaborate climax is a bit ludicrous (why don't the Phoenix officers shoot out the bus tires?), yet "The Gauntlet" remains on-target most of the way. A must-see for Eastwood fans.

Read Best Reviews of The Gauntlet (2008) Here

One of Eastwood's best films,and one of Sondra Locke'e for that matter,this Blu transfer blows away the previous DVD release which really wasnt all that bad,but this Blu Ray transfer and sound are just incredible,it blows the old DVD right out of the water!!!,your HD TV,and sound system will get quite a workout here!!! No extras here,just the movie,not even a trailer,but for the pretty low price,this one's worth picking up if you're a fan,worth the upgrade!!! The final scenes with the bus(Clint also had some bus action also in Dirty Harry,remember these films were made well before "Speed"!) are truly incredible,this movie is action packed!!! "The Gauntlet" is a winner!!! I've had this on VHS,DVD and now Blu Ray!!! A+

Want The Gauntlet (2008) Discount?

The movie itself is as good as any of the Dirty Harry series. The picture quality for a Blu-Ray is pretty good. It's probably the best I have ever seen it. I didn't notice much by the way of dirt or smudges, & grain is about par for a film of this age. If you are looking to buy this or the regular DVD, then I would say this Blu-Ray is a better choice.

Save 50% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment