Saturday, June 21, 2008

MAGNUM FORCE (Ted Post, 1973, USA) The second Dirty Harry feature is pure Hollywood action with little regard to the political irony and moral ardor of the first. The opening title sequence even repeats Harry’s catch phrase “Do you feel lucky” voice-over with a .44 magnum starkly contrasted against a blood red background. The far-fetched plot involves a group of rookie cops under the command of a veteran Lieutenant who don’t believe in due process: they systematically murder the top criminals in their jurisdiction. When they try to recruit Harry they find that they have greatly misunderstood his intentions; he is not a cold-blooded killer. Though he hates the system he will work within (or nearby) its boundaries until “something better comes along”. It’s difficult to believe that a group of cops could get away with this activity while on duty because there are never any witnesses…even in broad daylight! The screenplay, written by Michael Cimino (THE DEER HUNTER), is too involved in the graphic murders and shootouts and doesn’t delve deep into the real issue concerning justice and punishment. The criminals are stereotypical 70’s bad guys such as the black pimp, the corrupt white businessman, and the Italian gangster. Every man has got to know his limitations and Ted Post must realize his: MAGNUM FORCE suffers from uninspired direction and the narrative become rather humdrum and uninventive. The film fails to generate much suspense until the crosscutting in the mailbox bomb scene…but we know what happens to Harry’s partners so it’s no surprise anyway. The high spot is Lalo Schifrin’s cool offbeat score that kicks in only when needed to add extra dimension to the sometimes-flat visuals. Compared to the Siegel’s DIRTY HARRY the sophomore effort is a shallow and derivative exercise in apathetic filmmaking. (C)

No comments: