Tag Line: A man's got to know his limitations.
Directed by Ted Post
Starring Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, and Tim Matheson
THE PLAN: Dirty Harry Callahan is a cop known for f*cking up criminals with his hand cannon while still up-holding the law. But a group of vigilante cops killing San Francisco’s most notorious criminals has crossed the line of ‘law’ and ‘murder’, and it’s up to Dirty Harry (and his trusty .375 Magnum) to take out of the trash.
THE KILL: Dirty Harry. The name alone is an icon of American cinema and 100% tough-as-nails manliness. He's been ridding San Francisco of criminals through two decades and five movies, he's been quoted by President Ronald Reagan, and all action movies owe DIRTY HARRY their very being, as there are some who have attributed HARRY as being the first action movie ever made.
MAGNUM FORCE is the second of the DIRTY HARRY movies, and is also one of the most underrated and less recognizable of the series, being overshadowed by THE ENFORCER, THE DEAD POOL, and SUDDEN IMPACT. Well the time for overlooking has ended, and the time for giving MAGNUM FORCE the badass props it deserves has come!
Clint Eastwood is Dirty Harry, handling every scene with a sense of precision, purporse, and (most of all) a gruff dead-pan style ensuring every second he's on screen is covered with utter and total coolness. You don't make a character an icon like Eastwood has with Harry by going through the motions. Eastwood is at the top of his game with this one, with wit, a dry sense of humor and yes... he even sports his emotional side.
A man’s gotta know his limitations. Flying a plane isn't one of them.
MAGNUM FORCE offers an array of action set pieces strung together by a group of traffic motorcycle cops brutally blowing away S.F.'s criminals. Yes, there's more than just Harry's Magnum here, as the group's weapon of choice is also a Magnum, but no worries... Harry's Magnum is still, by far, the biggest. Is there a metaphor in there for something else? You decide.
Besides trailing the tails of the vigilante cops, Dirty Harry manages to overtake a plane hijacking (yes, it's as much as a surprise as you think it is), bust a robbery at Cost Plus, nail his hot Asian neighbor, dismantle a mailbox bomb, compete in a shooting competition, and butt heads with his Lieutenant (Lt. Briggs, played by Hal Holbrook) every chance he gets. Yes, all that and tracking down the group of renegade cops. This angle may seem a bit out of whack, as Dirty Harry is known to shoot first and not ask any questions, but taking the law into your own hands? Nope, that's not Dirty Harry's style at all: "I hate the damn system, but until someone comes along with changes that make sense, I'll stick with it." Couldn't have said it better myself.
So what else does MAGNUM FORCE have going for it? How about the Lieutenant you love to hate, Lt. Briggs? Their feisty interactions are entertaining and excruciating, as you want to punch the guy in the face from the second you see him. F*ck that guy! But damn, does his presence call for some killer interaction. The rest of the cast is also superior, including Dirty Harry's partner (Felton Perry), and the group of motorcycle cops (Mitch Ryan, David Soul, Robert Urich, Kip Niven and Tim Matheson).
Any movie that opens up to a rockin' 70s soundtrack and a close-up of a hand cannon as beautiful as the .357 Magnum is A-OK in my book. Dirty Harry delivers on all accounts with this entry of the series, throwing in some surprises here and there (just watch Harry overtake a hijacked plane!), and setting the stage for three more sequels to come. MAGNUM FORCE may not the best of the series, but it's one that deserves more respect and recognition as a balls-to-the-wall Dirty Harry vehicle than it's given credit for.
TOP DEATH: Dirty Harry playing a game of chicken with a vigilante cop on a motorcycle. Let’s just say, Dirty Harry wins.
TOP ACTION SCENE: The raid on the trailer of a group of tipped-off criminals is a rocking scene involving a shoot-out, a car chase, and one nasty automobile accident.
TOP HOMOEROTIC MOMENT: Honestly, if you look up ‘homoerotic’ in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Dirty Harry with a big red X over his face. Dirty Harry couldn’t be homoerotic, even if he tried. Although, he does express his thoughts on the subject: “If the rest of you could shoot like them, I wouldn't care if the whole damn department was queer.” Damn right.
FEMALE EXPLOITATION: It wouldn’t be a 70s action movie without some gratuitous nudity, and MAGNUM FORCE doesn’t disappoint! How about a nudie pool party featuring Suzanne Somers showing off her rack right before she’s blown away? Check! Or a couple of fun loving coke-heads having a nudie party right before their blown away (and thrown off a balcony)? Check! How about Dirty Harry being propositioned with a line like this from his neighbor: “What does a girl have to do to go to bed with you?” F*ckin’-A-Right. Check, check and double check!
Ladies and Gentleman, Suzanne Somers!
Dirty Harry: “Nothing wrong with shooting, as long as the right people get shot.”
Dirty Harry: ”Do things someone else's way, and you take your life in your own hands.”
DRINKING GAME: Every time Harry and Lt. Briggs butt heads, you have to drink! Seriously, you’ll be drinking up to the very last minute.
TRIVIA: Some have thought the scene were Dirty Harry lays rail with his Asian neighbor was out of place. Writer John Milius has been known to attribute that scene because of the overwhelming amount of fan mail from Asian women after DIRTY HARRY was released, all asking Harry for sex.
”I've never started shooting anyone who didn’t shoot at me first!”