The Gauntlet (1977) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for violence, nudity, sexuality, and language
Running Time: 109 min.
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Sandra Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack
Review published December 12, 1999
Clint Eastwood (The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Eiger Sanction) stars as Ben Shockley, a Phoenix cop sent to Nevada to transport a key witness for a well-publicized mafia trial. The woman in question is a feisty prostitute named Gus Malley (Locke, Sudden Impact), and things begin to look bleak when the Vegas odds of their success in making it to the trial approach upwards of 100 to 1. Highly perilous adventures occur all along their journey, as it's uncertain who they can trust, and not getting along with each other doesn't help either.
Also directed by Eastwood, The Gauntlet is a preposterous and far over-the-top action flick that delivers entertainment while stretching the limits of credibility. Eastwood and Locke are fun to watch as they fight like a cat tied to a dog. and Eastwood, the director, appears to have had fun setting up the wild stunt pieces, which, while making little sense as far as realism, do offer some memorable highlights to talk about and laugh at (or with, as it were).
The sheer absurdity of The Gauntlet is a double-edged sword, making the film fun to watch, but also destroying the tense drama that might have played it if it stayed within the realm of reality. The Gauntlet is recommended for Eastwood fans primarily, or just action fans in the mood for some no-brain entertainment.
©1999 Vince Leo