A film about a serial killer who calls himself “the Scorpio Killer”, that starts a killing spree, and won’t stop unless he is paid, Harry Callahan, a homicide detective is assigned to track him down and put him to a stop.
Why do they call him Dirty Harry? A few possibilities are shown up throughout the film. When he was checking out a possible killer, he looks in through the window of a woman undressing, causing his partner to say “I just had another thought… about why they call you Dirty Harry”. Harry himself says he’s called it because he takes “any dirty job”. His partner then says later on that “No wonder they call him Dirty Harry. He gets the shit end of the stick”. Which one is it? It looks like a combination of the last 2. He gets the shit end of the stick, and he takes it, because dirty jobs need to be done by someone.
Harry is on the track of the killer at all times, he is ruthless, unrelenting, a force to be reckoned with. The film shows the killer as desperate, pretty much at all times he is on the lookout for Harry. He knows that Harry won’t stop until Harry stops him, but he can’t stop, the killer keeps on trying. Either way, it seems these 2 know that one of them will end up killing the other, there’s no way around it.
Harry has a darker side to him, which can interfere with his job and the law. Suspects can even manage to go free after all they’ve done because of Harry’s action. Harry’s actions have consequences, it’s refreshing to see a film where the bad guy can walk free because Harry found evidence without a warrant, tortures the suspect to find the location of a victim who will die. In a lot of other films Harry would most likely have been let off the hook and hailed as a hero, but here, it’s not like that, the officer who plays by his own rules, is put in his place by the actual rules, the law he is meant to follow.
If the killer walks, he’ll kill again. Harry himself says this, when questioned on why he says this, Harry replies “Because he likes it”. The killer does enjoy what he does, he comes close to being killed, caught, and he even gets injured, but he still continues, he can’t stop. The scarier thing about this killer is that he isn’t a smart criminal mastermind, he has no real master plan, he seems like a normal and scared man. He is troubled, he has anger problems, but he seems so normal in everyday life. He is a monster underneath, but at times you almost believe he could be just an average person, whether it’s an act, or just a truly troubled man, I can’t tell.
The film focuses on the way Harry does things, how he handles the law, how he uses intimidation, torture, his intuition, to get things done, but things don’t always turn out like he wants. He has to be careful, if he isn’t, he’ll suffer for it, and so will other people. Even with all of that, he still stays true to himself, trying his best to do what he thinks is right, even if in the end it means he is the only one who has to suffer.