Magnum Force Reviews
In Magnum Force, Harry becomes caught up in solving a series of murders committed by a group of cops who, like him, mete out their own personal justice. It's a lot like The Star Chamber, except Eastwood is the star not Michael Douglas, so you can guess what that means. Just in case you can't, it means a glorious victory for Harry not just because he must go on to star in more Dirty Harry movies, but because while the crooked cops are armed with daunting .357 magnums, hence the title, Harry uses the "most powerful hand gun in the world, the Smith & Wesson .44 magnum." I have since learned that the Smith & Wesson .44 magnum was not the most powerful hand gun in the world at the time this movie took place, but it doesn't stop Harry from bragging otherwise. I'm not a gun nut at all but Harry's factoid about his firearm is repeated so many times that it makes one wonder if he might be a spokesman for Smith&Wesson. If you watch all of the Dirty Harry movies,you might just as well cancel your subscription to Guns&Ammo because by that time you'll have learned all you need to know. Literally.
The second Dirty Harry movie. This time, vigilante cops are killing off criminals. Meanwhile, our hero, Harry Calahan (played by Clint Eastwood, of course), has a hard case Lieutenant for a boss, and is out of Homicide.
Entertaining, especially as a pure action movie. The plot has a few holes but the movie brushes off these minor inconveniences with ease, hardly stopping to take a breath.
More balanced than the first Dirty Harry movie. There Harry was the vigilante, to a degree. Now he's fighting vigilantes.
Usual solid performance from Clint Eastwood as the cool, tough-as-nails Harry Calahan. Supporting cast includes David Soul, Tim Matheson and Robert Urich in early-career roles. Was, in fact, Urich's first movie.
The villain of this "Dirty Harry" sequel is not a deranged sniper but a vigilante posing as a traffic cop. He doesn't figure himself to be crazy; he finds his actions to be methodical. His favorite hobby involves hunting down the thugs who escape jail time and offing them - since the law can't manage to lock them up (the first few minutes of the film witness outrage following the release of a murderer, based on a technicality), why not do the dirty work and rid the city of the vermin that corrupts it?
The foe figures he's doing San Francisco a favor, but Harry can see through the bullshit - the guy's a madman looking for an excuse to justify his madness; who knows how long it'll be before he starts shooting jaywalkers? So he and his partner (Felton Perry) try to strip away all the false leads and find out what the real deal is, as their Lieutenant (Hal Holbrook) remains skeptical of Harry's unconventional ways.
Some find the "Dirty Harry" movies to be too questionable in their ethics to really enjoy, but I find their thunderous grittiness to be gigantically entertaining. Clint Eastwood is the ultimate anti-hero, his perpetual machismo convincingly charged. He's a man bred to seek justice, too old and worn to consider the confines of the rules. Harry is ruthless, stoic, street smart - Eastwood is so mesmerizing in the role because he doesn't have to emote. His lined face and subtle emotional scars speak louder than the limited stretches of dialogue he has to deliver.
"Magnum Force" is a such an excellent sequel because it builds on what made "Dirty Harry" made so great; we hardly need character development here, considering all we need to know is that Harry Callahan is a cop you don't want to mess with. The thrills are leaner and meaner, the screenplay without filler, the characterizations fiendishly simple - even the villain menaces more than the previous scoundrel, as his identity is kept secret until the unpredictable truth is let out.
Things might not be as rugged as they were before - Ted Post, replacing Don Siegel, prefers an adventuresome tone in comparison to the first's sinister bloodlust - but "Magnum Force" is an appealing sequel that delivers the turbo-charged thrills one wants, one expects. But its quality - that's what makes it strong enough to work on its own.