This sequel to Dirty Harry (1971) found San Francisco cop Inspector Harry Callahan – there is no explanation for why he’s got his job back after disobeying orders and resigning at the end of the last film – pitted against a cell of well connected and organised vigilante cops who act as judge, jury and executioner in exasperation over the number of felons escaping punishment from the congested and toothless courts.
Harry makes his own violent stand against these miscreants – even though their plans don’t really contradict his actions or ideas – but by 1973 the vigilante was well on the way to becoming the Seventies’ new screen hero.
Eastwood oozes laconic cool and confirms his superstar status, even if the storyline here is more brutally violent (particularly an unforgivably gratuitous murder of a prostitute) and fails to explore the moral complexity of the original – Ted Post is no Don Siegel when it comes to direction.
Nevertheless, the climactic chase and showdown on board a deserted aircraft carrier is gripping, and it’s intriguing to see future TV stars like David Soul (Starsky and Hutch) and Robert Urich (Spenser for Hire) cut their teeth playing rookie motorcycle cops.
Clifford A Pellow