Inspector Harry Callahan goes up against a squad of rookie cops who
are secretly vigilantes that are killing criminals who've escaped justice.
Magnum Force (1973)
Directed by Ted Post
Written by John Milius and Michael Cimino
Starring Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, David Soul, Felton Perry, Tim Matheson, Robert Urich, Kip Niven, Mitchell Ryan
Sequel to 1971's Dirty Harry
The Dirty Harry franchise is peak 70's and 80's action violence at its finest. One man, a loose cannon cop who plays by his own rules, keeping the streets of San Francisco safe by any means necessary with only his wits and a .44 on his hip. The first film established the "cold as ice with a heart of gold" character of Harry Callahan, and Magnum Force builds on that character by giving him a sort-of love interest and a good friend he must avenge. I enjoyed this movie pretty much the whole time. My only gripe is the abrupt ending that leaves so many questions unanswered.
Criminals are being slaughtered left and right; big time crooks who've escaped justice. Callahan wants the case, but the obstinate Lt. Briggs (Holbrook) has it in for him. Still, the bodies are stacking up, and when a cop is killed as well, Callahan takes it personally. What he discovers is a sick group of rookie cops have become a vigilante death squad who are taking the law into their own hands. What's worse is Lt. Briggs is orchestrating it. Can Callahan stop these renegades without ending up in prison himself? We don't know because the credits roll right after he beats them, but before the rest of the SFPD show up and question him. Callahan just walks off into the sunset after killing three cops and his own lieutenant. I want to know how he talked his way out of that, especially since he had no evidence beyond his own word.
Magnum Force is a decent sequel to a pop culture icon, and it stands pretty well on its own as a good action flick. The scene where Callahan stops a plane hijacking is epic, for example. But the ending holds the film back. A little bit more to wrap this thing up and all would've been fine. But the ending is rushed for no apparent reason, and it hurts the movie. Hopefully the other three sequels will wrap things up better.