Friday, February 4, 2011

The Gauntlet - An Awesome Shootout

Clint Eastwood is a guy I've only discovered in the last year or so. Of course I know the name, but I really haven't seen any of his work. My first acquaintance with Clint was in Mystic River, a brilliant movie in which he did not the star, but directed. And with my garnering interest of westerns (highly influenced by Tarantino), I had to start with the best: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Since I loved how Eastwood played the cool, calm, and collected persona in the Spaghetti Westerns, I've decided to watch another one of his acting roles in The Gauntlet. Detective Ben Shockley, played by Eastwood, is a drunk cop sent to escort a young lady, Gus Mally, from Vegas to Phoenix. Gus, played by Sondra Locke, is a sassy prostitute who is called into court to testify for a mob trial. However, the police commissioner who sent Shockley on the task, is a corrupt man tied-in with the case. The commissioner only sent Shockley as a setup, having every intention to kill them on their journey back to Phoenix. After surviving car chases, helicopter pursuits, and a biker gang, nothing will stop Shockley from delivering the girl to city hall, even if it means bursting into an armed gauntlet.

Not only did Eastwood play the main role, but he also directed the film in 1977. In one scene, Eastwood incorporated cinematic techniques trademarked by Sergio Leone. When the duo are being attacked by a biker gang on a train, the camera zoomed onto their faces, powerfully showing their fear and expressions. Another trait of note is the film's jazz score. Eastwood must have a love for jazz as he eventually directed Bird, a film biography based on saxophonist Charlie Parker. The film is also filled with action, utilizing real stunts and special effects without any CGI. Two sequences of note are:

  • The Helicopter Pursuit: There is a real helicopter chasing a real motorcycle. As the chase is going on, you are able to watch from the both perspectives of the ground and the air. With the sequence ending in a helicopter collision, there is a huge explosion using awesome pyrotechnics.
  • The Gauntlet: The movie's grand finale ends with the couple running a huge bus through a blockade of armed police officers. With thousands of bullets piercing through the bus, this is a cinematic delight to watch.
The movie may be a little dated, such as Shockley shutting Gus up with a slap to the face, but it has a lot of fun scenes and a story to keep you interested. Maybe Dirty Harry (which I plan to watch in the near future) is more recognizable than Shockley, but the movie poster attracted me with an awesome image by comic book legend Frank Frazetta. Overall, I'm glad to have watched this film, giving the The Gauntlet - 3 out of 5 stars.

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