DVD Review: Magnum Force: Deluxe edition

Warner Bros Home Entertainment
SRP $14.97

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, Felton Perry, David Soul, Tim Matheson.

Magnum Force is my favorite of the Dirty Harry films. Now I won’t say it is the best, but simply the one I enjoy the most after all these years.

Magnum Force finds Harry, still on the edge of the system, searching the police ranks for a crew of vigilantes.

MF starts with the acquittal of a mob boss. As he gloats on beating the system, he and his crew are blown away. Soon after, more bodies pile up: Pimps, drug-dealers, jaywalkers…ok, I made that last one up.

So what initially might have been a simply matter of a long citizen, taking justice into his own hands starts to look like an organized crew, picking targets and executing then in cold blood.
It is this concept that appeals to me so much. The Dirty Harry of the original seemed, to me, to be only a step or two away from the men he now is hunting. Make no mistake about it, Harry still clearly has little use for the much of the trapping of the justice system, but his own personal moral code and set of standards come into play. I think that makes the character all the more interesting.

The film is by no means perfect; there are scenes that either could have been cut, or reduced. Each of the killings has a lead-up showing us what scum the victim is. While I understand the film makers wanting to make less folks stand out as not simply victims and make sure that there would be little sympathy for them, it eats up too much film time and is done in a fairly clumsy manner. They could have simply shown them kicking little kittens or something and it would have been just as subtle and taken less time.

MF, like each of theses releases, comes in a fairly cool package. It has a plastic sleeve with a jagged hole out of which Harry’s big, honking gun seems to protrude.

We get a set of trailers, one for each of the DH movies. I have always thought it would take very little to include a collection of all of the ads and trailers that are made for a movie. This is not exactly that, but it is a nice addition.

A Moral Right: the Politics of Dirty Harry is a twenty-four minute piece that features comments from filmmakers, historians and social scientists examining the concepts of the DH films and there place in society at the time of the film’s release. Very interesting piece that adds some depth to the film and could help viewers look at it in a different light. The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today, made for the film’s original release back in 1973, looks at Dirty Harry and the good guys that preceded him.

Finally, we get a commentary track featuring screenwriter John Milius. While I generally enjoy these tracks, this one left me cold. If you are going have a commentary track, make sure the person has enough to say. More often than not, he was silent. Since the volume of the film is down, this leads to quite a bit of boredom. What he does talk about is honestly not all that interesting. Trust me, you can pass on it.

Magnum Force is a damn enjoyable film. If you are going to pick and choose among the Dirty Harry films, this is one that should be in your collection.

Order Magnum Force from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch