The Gauntlet (1977) Short Review
I almost want to just give this 3 stars because it’s Clint, but I can’t do it. It starts out adequately; not classic material, but acceptable as a crime drama thats going to be a little over the top. The problem is that it gets more ridiculous as it goes. It meanders all over the place. That might have worked as a comedy (as in Every Which Way But Loose). As a serious drama it fails miserably. This is practically self parody.
Eastwood plays Ben Shockley, a cop that’s never cracked the ‘big time’ in law enforcement, whatever that may be. He’s looked down upon by fellow officers. He has low self esteem and may be Esstwood’s most flawed character that he played in his entire career. Flawed in the way that his actions sometimes make absolutely no sense.
He’s given what seems to be a simple task of escorting a prisoner from Las Vegas and back to Phoenix. The prisoner is a prostitute played by Eastwood’s longtime girlfriend Sondra Locke. He quickly realizes there’s more than meets the eye when he’s being shot at by both mob hitmen and police officers (and bikers) alike.
The finale is the most laughable where Shockley decides that the best way to get Locke’s character to court/city hall is by hijacking a bus, informing the bad guys of his route and then getting shot at by hundreds of cops. That’s his plan…. That Eastwood or Locke are never hit by one of the THOUSANDS of rounds fired at the bus while they are inside is almost as amazing that none of the cops are hit when they’re on opposite sides of the road firing at the bus in between them. And none of them shoot the tires.
Their reactions are also hilarious (they don’t react) when standing around Clint and the bad guy as they shoot at one another. Even the Dead Pool wasn’t this ridiculously over the top. It hurts me to say this being a HUGE Clint Eastwood fan, but this is a TERRIBLE movie. Just TERRIBLE. Its watchable only because of Eastwood and maybe for some of the Eastwood usual suspects (like Dan Vadis and Bill McKinney). I especially liked seeing Pat Hingle reuniting with Eastwood. I just wish it had been in a better film. The Gauntlet made my Bottom 10 Worst Films of 1977.