Magnum Force (1973)


Harry Callahan returns to investigate the serial murders of unrelated criminals and discovers a conspiracy of vigilantes within his department.

The sequel to Dirty Harry is where Callahan starts his transformation from uncompromising outsider to macho stereotype, the opening titles consisting of an unwavering close up on his .357 phallus on a blood red background. Plus the graphic and often gratuitous shoot-outs are punctuated by his refusal to accept anaesthetic and having every female within his vicinity falling into bed with him. It’s a much more exploitative approach, the grit of the original replaced with irrelevant action scenes, nudity and gangland stereotypes – the pimp in particular is straight out of a particularly unsubtle Blaxploitation movie. There are also some inconsistencies in the plot; how can a cop empty an unsilenced magnum in the middle of a street in broad daylight without anyone noticing, and why would they choose to hit a target who they must have known was being staked out by the department? As well as the killings being too indiscriminate to make the “vigilante justice” motive seem plausible.

On the other hand, Clint Eastwood is still ice cool and TV cop show stalwart Ted Post handles the action efficiently enough so it’s reasonably entertaining if you don’t take it too seriously, but it’s not even in the same league as the original.



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