Magnum Force ★★★

Dirty Harry is back... and nicer? He expresses patience and compassion for the coworkers he once did little to hide his hatred for? What?

Not a creative failure but a definite sophomoric stumble, Magnum Force challenged its predecessor's notion that for justice, the ends will justify the means by pitting Callahan against a rogue team of unidentified SFPD cops who have been executing all manner of societal ne'er-do-wells at traffic stops. Does the film argue that Harry is misguided in his intentions, or does it just think he's the only one above due process? The movie doesn't really care to answer these questions, instead riveting us with set pieces that up the previous entry's ante both successfully (the abandoned ship finale) and sloppily (the less said about Dirty Harry driving an airplane, the better). It's looser (the longest of the series, actually) and flabbier, but still a gripping, grim San Francisco cop tale.