Magnum Force ★★

The concept for "Magnum Force"- Dirty Harry taking on even dirtier cops- is the perfect idea for a sequel to the original movie. It addresses the accusations of fascism that "Dirty Harry" received in a way that pretty much guarantees at least a good action movie. Add to that the fact that John Milius and Michael Cimono came up with the story, and I was sure that this, the only Dirty Harry movie I hadn't seen, was going to be fantastic.

This is a bad movie. It is. It's bad. It moves at such a leisurely pace, that the main conflict of the movie- the really good idea mentioned at the outset of this writing- doesn't really bear fruit until about the hour mark. Until then, we get Harry moving through would-be action scenes that Harry stumbles upon by happenstance. One example: he and his partner are eating lunch at the airport for some reason, and Harry stumbles onto a hijacking situation.

The casualness of how an airline hijacking is treated here is weird by today's standards, of course, but I question that a cop unrelated to the investigation would be instantly placed aboard the plane in an effort to diffuse the situation, even in 1973. Director Ted Post stages this scene and the rest of the movie with the most clumsily edited and least intense action scenes I've seen in some time. The finale, where Harry is squaring off against the vigilante cops, involves one sequence where a motorcycle flies off a pier where I'm still not exactly sure what happened and why the bad guy died as a result.

One other way that "Magnum Force" seems to be answering to the criticisms of the first movie is through Harry's relationship with women. There are no Peeping Tom scenes in this one, which is nice, but the relationship that he he does enter into is with a female character so underdeveloped, its embarrassing. Harry meets this women upon returning home from a hard day, where she instantly asks him "What does it take to go to bed with you?" After this, we see her mainly as a way to either get in trouble (some business with a mailbox bomb) or to bring him beer. I don't know; trying to humanize Callahan in this way makes him seem even more alien. These movies would be better served to keep Harry on the job and that's it- the less we know about his "personal life", the better.

"Magnum Force" really misses the hand of a competent director; "Dirty Harry" wasn't perfect, but Don Siegel knew how to stage an action scene and how to cut in a way that created some immediacy. Other than some incredible shots of San Francisco (one of the best things about these movies are its location shooting) and that Eastwood continues to be effortlessly iconic in the role, there isn't a whole lot that is good about this sequel.