Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Film brings Harry back and he's just as dirty

Cleveland Press December 27, 1973

"Magnum Force" is playing here. Crime melodrama; adults. In the cast are Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook. Running time: 126 minutes.

"Magnum Force," or 'Dirty Harry Returns," is splashing local screens with blood this happy Yuletide season.

The criticism of "Dirty Harry" was that Harry showed some tyrannical tendencies in his enforcement of the law, sometimes being separated from the bad guys only by his badge.

This time it is some other cops who are vigilante law enforcers, far more so than old Harry ever was. And it is Harry, who talks about working within the system, who brings them to justice.

Don't be alarmed. Harry really hasn't changed that much. He still metes out justice with a gun, or bare handed tactics capable of killing, or even with explosives.

There are comments to be made, thoughtful comments, about a judicial system that sometimes allows criminals to go free on technicalities.

But pictures such as "Harry" and "Magnum Force" say it in too simplistic a way.

The plot has to do with the wholesale slaughter of San Francisco hoods. The executioner each time is a motorcycle policeman, his face hidden by sunglasses.

He keeps pulling these cars over and spraying the inside with lead. Once he takes up a position overlooking a swank home, messes up a swimming party with bullets and a bomb just when it begins to turn into an orgy. Truly a case of the righteous punishing the wicked.

Poor old Harry is in the middle, and in the end he is busy doing battle with a bunch of efficient killers, but not more efficient than he.

It takes quite a while (better than two hours) to pull all this together in a package and it's a pretty sloppy package.

Now and then there is a side adventure that has nothing to do with the main plot. In "Dirty Harry" the hero was munching on a hot dog when he was interrupted by a bank robbery which he promptly foiled. This time the food is a hamburger and Harry foils a couple of jet plane hijackers.

Clint Eastwood plays Harry in his usual squint-eyed manner, wearing a laconic smile. He moves slowly, the epitome of cool, deadly to all men, irresistible to all women. Hal Holbrook chews the scenery as a superior officer who has no use for Harry.

The dialog is as uninspired as the plot but the stunt and chase sequences are up to par for this sort of thing. The action is fast, brutal and bloody. "Magnum Force" should make a whole lot of money.

Caption Under Photo: HARRY FINDS ROMANCE -- Clint Eastwood has Adele Yockoka as his romantic interest in "Magnum Force," a sequel to his successful movie, "Dirty Harry."