Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Harry's Limitations

Magnum Force (1973) on IMDb

Plot Overview

jet pilotSan Francisco Police Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is back, relegated by his testy superior Lieutenant Neil Briggs (Hal Holbrook) to the stake­out squad on account of the horrendous amount of paper­work generated by his mischief in Homicide. No matter. Being Johnny-on-the-spot at the air­port when a couple hijackers request an over­seas pilot, he goes under­cover, like deep under­cover and over his head, dressed as a pilot, boarding the plane with­out his piece briefcase or (copilot: “Can you fly?”) any flight experience (Harry: “Nope.”) As he's bringing the four-engine jet up to speed on the run­way, Harry seems to be disregarding his own maxim: “A man's got to know his limitations.”

cop writing ticketA combat sharpshooting competition with a rookie cop formerly of the Army Rangers will devolve into real combat once Harry makes him for one of the vigilantes executing bad guys at traffic stops. A motor­cycle chase on a derelict air­craft carrier is about to run out of deck space when again the audience wonders whether Harry can fly.


The film opens at the court­house with the press covering a brouhaha (“Dump the bum”) over the murder acquittal of crooked labor leader (“legitimate business­man”) Carmine Ricci (Richard Devon) on a technicality—lack of admissible evidence. Switch to the same scene on a TV set on a night­stand next to a trophy board, a B&W graduation picture of an SFPD motor­cycle cop, and his helmet. He dons the latter and mounts the former. On the freeway we see him framed in the side mirror of a car he's stopped, then in the rear window of the gumba's car as he walks back to his motor­cycle to radio it in, before he executes all four riders with six shots from his service revolver. Finally, we see him doing his proper job of traffic control at the crime scene.

peaceful family lifeHarry, on the other hand, has on his night­stand a picture of him with his wife now deceased two years. Come to sit in a chair next to it is Sunny his first “young lady friend” since. Then we'll get a mob pool party where a party girl shows off her engagement ring. Then we'll see Harry's new partner Earlington “Early” Smith (Felton Perry) real cozy with his wife at the sharp­shooter competition. Then Harry is real affable with his long time friend Carol's children. Her ex, Harry's friend Charlie McCoy (Mitchell Ryan) just went through this third wife and now can't afford to retire on account of his support obligations. And finally, Carmine's driver James “Gino” Cantina drives the thing “like a baby carriage” (representing the empty nest.) The whole world has vertical generational progressions, except the rookie cop who has just got his same-generation cop buddies glimpsed in picturers on his wall. “They stick together like fly­paper, you know? Every­body thought they were queer for each other.”

That sets us up to appreciate Solomon's (Prov. 30:11-14)
There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.
It works out thus in their minds:

A hundred years ago in this city, people did the same thing. History justified the vigilantes. We're no different. Anyone who threatens the security of the people will be executed. Evil for evil.

We're the first generation that's learned to fight. We're simply ridding society of killers that would have been caught and sentenced if our courts worked properly. We began with the criminals that the people knew so that our actions would be under­stood. It's not just a question of whether or not to use violence, there's simply no other way.

Harry Callahan: That's just fine, but how does murder fit in? You know, when police start becoming their own executioners, where's it gonna end? Huh—? Pretty soon, you'll start executing people for jay­walking, and executing people for traffic violations. Then you end up executing your neighbor 'cause his dog pisses on your lawn.

Production Values

” (1973) was directed by Ted Post under the watchful eye of Clint Eastwood. The screen­play was written by John Milius and Michael Cimino, based on original material by Harry Julian Fink and R.M. Fink. It stars Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, and Mitchell Ryan. East­wood did well as always and he had a strong supporting cast. The two hijackers were “dark and swarthy” men who acted like they meant business. Felton Perry as Harry's new (black) partner was not expected to survive long with him.

It was rated R as expected for a Dirty Harry flick. In 1973 sex was treated casually before STDs and other reper­cus­sions put the kibosh on unsafe practices. The bargain sets looked a bit slapdash but can be forgiven unless your aim is for visual elegance.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

MF is a welcome check on the rogue cop motif it emulates: “Dirty Harry” (1971,) “The Enforcer” (1976), “Sudden Impact” (1983,) and “The Dead Pool” (1989.) The movie is very dramatic yet easy to follow. Eastwood cuts a fine figure and in his practiced hand, the .44 Magnum is the ultimate revolver.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.