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Review The Gauntlet (1977): Almost a parody!

genre: action, crime, thriller

Clint Eastwood is Ben Shockly, an average cop who gets assigned to escort a witness to court. Seeing as an opportunity to give his career a boost he takes on the job. Not that he has that much of a choice since he is a no good alcoholic. However very soon he discovers not all is what his seems and realizes he is in quite the predicament.

The plot is very simple. However it is quite ridiculous. Especially in the way force is used by the police. Apparently none of the officers question the legitimacy of the orders they have been given. So when the higher ups say they should shoot and not even try apprehending the suspects (in this case Ben and Gus Malley played by Sondra Locke) they just do so. If they only had done it once they could have made a case for themselves by saying they got a little carried away. But two or three times? And then the ending. Don't worry not going to spoil it. But it's completely ludicrous. What's even more unbelievable is that Clint himself directed this film. It could be that this was just made to have the two lovebirds star together. Why though? Couldn't they have found other hobbies? 

In any case I really wanted to like and appreciate this film but there is not that much to get too excited about. I must admit that I do remember always being impressed with the shootout in the finale. But in my defense I never had seen the whole film. The biggest flaw is that there is no tension. If Ben truly was in dire straits from the starts and every second could be his last then yes I think this film could have worked. But unloading a million bullets without actually hurting or killing someone is not exactly exciting. Granted the plot itself did lend itself for some seventies paranoia. Who can Ben trust?  Is he truly on his own? Can he rely on Gus? Unfortunately. No real attempt is made to surprise you. 

Overall The Gauntlet is a big letdown. It's basically a chase movie without thrills and tension. One of the worst films Clint Eastwood has made. To make a comparison. The Rookie for example also is flawed but a much more enjoyable film. Better watch that one instead! 

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