The Dead Pool

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Dead Pool Movie Poster Image
Violent '80s cop drama with blood and drugs.
  • R
  • 1988
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"You want to play the game, you better know the rules." Police officers don't get paid enough to put themselves in harm's way. Horror films make money because people are fascinated by death and violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

After a killer goes after Harry, then drops his weapon and starts to run, Harry shoots him dead, in the back. Harry will do almost anything to stop criminals. A reporter at first seems to care more about getting a story than about the truth but proves herself to be trustworthy and honest.


The violence is so rampant and nonstop that it almost takes on a cartoon quality. Hired assassins attack a rising elevator carrying Harry and a woman, shooting hundreds of rounds from automatic weapons. Only the killers get killed. Harry smashes a lot of squad cars. Harry enters a Chinese restaurant being robbed by armed killers and manages to coolly shoot up the joint, bringing down all the criminals. A woman is taken and held at knifepoint. A man sets himself on fire to be noticed and broadcast on television. A child's remote-controlled car is used as a bomb to chase and blow up real cars; a driver is killed that way. A killer gets harpooned to a wall.


Harry's attention wanders at the gym to an attractive woman working out nearby. Harry goes to bed with a female reporter, but no sex or body parts are seen.


"F--k," "s--t," "bastard," "cock up," "hell," "butt," "bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An addicted movie star and singer injects bad drugs into his arm and dies of an overdose. Adults drink beer and wine and smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dead Pool, a 1988 installment in the Dirty Harry series starring Clint Eastwood, is a violent love song to cops who care more about stopping criminals than about playing by the rules. The gory spectacle includes bloody wounds, knifings, shootings, car chases, explosions, a man setting himself on fire, and a man injecting an opiate into his arm and then dying of an overdose. Adults smoke cigarettes and drink wine and beer. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," and "ass." Harry goes to bed with a female reporter, but no sex or body parts are seen.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byi am an adult yes June 18, 2020

Not Violent

its not violent
Kid, 11 years old June 28, 2018

Crap.......and this is not marvel deadpool

This movie sucks. Like in deadpool, cuss word in pretty much every sentence. It goes from f--k to h--l. No sex. Don't watch the movie though it sucks

What's the story?

In THE DEAD POOL, for once the ordinarily rogue cop Inspector (Dirty) Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) has garnered good press for the police department. Harry says no to being paraded in front of the press, but his renown puts him on a list predicting the deaths of celebrities. The first to die is a singer and actor working on a horror film. When other people on the list start dying violent deaths, Harry is back in the news. Although he disdains the press for what he perceives as its interest in getting the story over public responsibility, he becomes involved with a reporter (Patricia Clarkson) who is covering the murders. As usual, he ignores his superiors, who think they've identified the killer. And, as always, Harry is proved right in the end.

Is it any good?

The Dead Pool reliably follows the formula of the Dirty Harry police dramas, and some might find that repetition tedious. As always, Harry must fight his superiors on the force as well as the criminals threatening the public. The formula becomes more difficult to ignore as the franchise continues, but mostly solid performances and nonstop action here make the predictability more forgivable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie expects viewers to tell good guys from bad guys when police are killing unarmed criminals in the back. Is this a mixed message? Why, or why not?

  • Harry casually goes to bed with various women in the Dirty Harry movies. How do you think the movie wants the audience to view his sexual encounters? Do you think he will have a long-term relationship with the reporter? Do you think he's interested in long-term relationships? Why, or why not?

  • How does The Dead Pool compare to the other movies in the Dirty Harry series?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills and chills

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate