Blair Russell’s review published on Letterboxd:
Last July I rewatched Magnum Force, so it's been more than enough time for me to continue my revisiting of the Dirty Harry franchise. This has never been my favorite in the franchise and I'll explain why that's the case.
It starts off fine: what proves to be the villains do their first killings. They are Vietnam vets who dress like dirty hippies and they want a lot of money; that's pretty much it... you don't really get to know these cats or even spend a lot of time with them. The Scorpio Killer or a band of rogue vigilante cops, they ain't in terms of being memorable or even worthy of being followed closely. Dirty Harry also gets a nice introduction, going OTT in stopping a robbery. Amazingly, the police don't condone their officers driving into buildings as it's not only dangerous but they have to foot the bill in repairs.
The biggest plot point: both the movie and Harry are against affirmative action. Just mentioning such things I know could bring up controversy but that is clear to me when they had the “wackiness” of Inspector Callahan not only team up with a woman, but one who only got the position to meet a new quota and have diversity be seen by the public. Sure, that lady (played by Tyne Daly) has been a cop for years but it was a desk job and Harry's fears of having a partner who is woefully inexperienced is a valid argument. Of course at first she's not good in her new role and their professional relationship is not convivial at first... only for her performance and Harry's opinion of her to improve, but the movie seems to give off a certain measure about such things, and considering the ending I say THAT is a valid argument in of itself.
As I heard various people say here and elsewhere, the film is shot like a TV movie and visually, it definitely is not as dynamic like the first two even if there are a few crane shots throughout. Yet for me there was enough to where I can still say this is good. The Dirty Harry character and Eastwood's charm helps out a lot. There are moments that at least amused me, such as one guy getting shot in the balls, a few minutes spent in a massage parlor, a few quality one-liners are delivered, one scene has a sweet 70's van, and if you ever wanted to hear Clint be called “honky” and “whitey”, there's a black militant subplot-which was little more than a red herring. But the films in the series before this were better and I recall the ones after this were more memorable.