It is quite strange that the bad guys of this film are vigilante cops gone too far unless you look at it from that lens of responding to the claims of the first movie that Harry Callahan was just a fascist who wanted to rip apart the Bill of Rights and blow baddies away.
In this movie Callahan actually has to defend the very system that he despises so much, saying in effect, it’s the best we’ve got for now. However, a group of new hot headed recruits seem to disagree and go on a rampage killing any local criminal who makes waves in the newspapers.
Callahan of course catches on and then the rest of the movie becomes a cat and mouse chase between them. In a way this movie is a far less sophisticated version of Serpico. Still it is one of the more enjoyable parts of the franchise, Hol Holbrook does a fine job as the police chief here, and Animal House alumn Tim Matheson does a convincing job of being a young maniac cop.
There is a bizarre scene in this movie that has little to do with the rest of the film in which Dirty Harry seduces a young Asian woman and goes to bed with her like he’s a low rent James Bond or something. Callahan in this movie has not quite yet become the comic book character he will be in subsequent movies, although for sure there is an element of that.
That gets played slightly more subtle here and we simply get a very straight forward police procedural where at the end, you know all the bad guys are going to feel the wrath of Harry’s big ol .44 Mag problem solver.
Magnum Force gets a four out of five: GREAT.