Unlike the first two Dirty Harry movies, that seemed to make a statement about the situation of law enforcement in a modern urban society, The Enforcer tells a rather straightforward story of cops versus killers. A group of terrorists steal army weapons, kidnap the Lord Mayor and start blackmailing the city of san Francisco. And it's all up to Harry and his new partner (a woman, no less) to solve the case.
Some of the terrorists look a little like hippies, and the suggestion is made that they are a left-wing revolutionary movement ("This is for the people!"), but the idea is not stretched. They rob, kidnap and blackmail, but don’t seem to have any revolutionary philosophy. Harry is still crossing boundaries when enforcing his personal view on justice (after all he is the enforcer), but it’s all presented in a more whimsical style this time around. With those hippie-like terrorists and a macho cop who doubts whether a female partner can possibly be up to the job, The Enforcer feels more dated than its predecessors, but that is not really a problem.
The enforcer is not nearly as good as the original movie, Dirty Harry, but it’s much tighter than the second entry, Magnum Force. It's so fast and furious that its shortcoming are covered up. The story doesn’t make much sense and some scenes are nearly ridiculous (notably the final scene, with the leader of the terrorist climbing a tower, so Eastwood can blow him (plus the upper part of the tower) away. But if a movie has so much firepower, you don't mind.
Harry is contrasted by no less than three characters, who all respond, in their own special way, to one of his special qualities. He is assigned a female partner, Tyne Daley, who has to deal with his macho bravura, Bradford Dillman is his slimy boss, who has been working ten years in personnel (a devision Harry despises in particular), and Harry Guardino is his immediate superior, functioning as a sort of catalyst between the iconoclastic detective and Dillman’s martinet. All three actors are perfectly cast, and it’s nice to see that Tyne Daley once was a beauty. Once, before she inflated to hippopotamic proportions.
But a good cop thriller can’t do without a good villain, and stage actor and Shakespeare director DeVeren Bookwalter does an excellent job as the terrorist Bobby Maxwell. It was one of his very few movie appearances, and he apparently accepted it because he needed money for his Othello adaption (released half a decade later).