Magnum Force (1973)

Magnum Force (1973)

“I didn’t start shooting at anyone that didn’t start shooting at me first.”

“Dirty” Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) hunts down a team of rookie cops who are murdering notorious criminals.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Clint Eastwood Films
  • Police
  • Vigilantes

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this second installment in the “Dirty Harry” franchise “lacks the gritty feel and stylistic impositions of the original” but has some “tough, cleverly directed” action scenes and an “exciting”, morally ambiguous script (co-written by Michael Cimino). Since the identity of the killers is made clear from the beginning, there’s no “murder mystery” to be solved; instead, the film’s interest lies primarily in watching how a notorious vigilante cop like Dirty Harry reacts when confronted with a group of sharpshooting fascist rookies (led by blonde David Soul) who take his own cynical attitude to a deadly extreme.

(Harry himself states at one point, “I hate the goddamn system, but until someone comes along with changes that make sense, I’ll stick with it.”) The film’s title (magnums are ultra-powerful cartridges) hints at an emphasis on firearms and ballistics throughout, and the scene in which Eastwood battles Soul for top prize in a shooting contest is particularly exciting. However, I could do without the inane “subplot” involving Harry’s sexually available Asian neighbor (Adele Yoshioka), whose two-dimensional presence merely serves to tap into Orientalist fantasies.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An intriguing premise
  • Effective use of San Francisco locales (including the infamously twisty Lombard Street)

Must See?
No, though it’s certainly worth a look, and must-see for “Dirty Harry” completists.


2 thoughts on “Magnum Force (1973)

  1. Not a must, tho admittedly the premise is intriguing.

    My guess is that Peary includes all of the ‘DH’ series simply because the films were so popular (either that or they’re to his taste).

    Including sequels in must-see lists in general, tho, is something I’d probably be slow to go along with (depending on what original film we’re talking about). In terms of the ‘DH’ series, as I recall, (detail changes notwithstanding) if you’ve seen the first one, you’ve seen them all. Of course, I’ll be revisiting others in the series at some point but I’m thinking I may always find the first entry the one that ffs should check out.

    [Sidenote: It’s odd how the two women in this movie throw themselves at Eastwood. The first complains to him about how being a mother of 3 gets in the way of getting laid (!) – and she’s not even white trash! The second propositions him when she first talks to him and does become something of a plaything. She later advises him to “keep it warm” (!). What woman who isn’t a hooker, or clearly joking, would say this?]

  2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Effective, creepy, intriguing sequel to the superior Dirty Harry (1971) is well made, well played and very entertaining. The second best Dirty Harry flick in my view.

    Dirty Harry is must see as one of the most influential American crime films ever made, but this one isn’t.

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