John Wayne gave up the lead in 1971’s Dirty Harry and came to regret it. McQ is his attempt to get in on the vigilante cop craze, playing a cop who starts out investigating the murder of a friend and ends up unearthing a police corruption scandal. Along the way Diana Muldaur and Colleen Dewhurst compete for his affection. Both women have secrets and one of them thankfully ends up having more to do in the movie than just another ‘tacked on’ romantic subplot.
McQ is a full two hours and feels a bit long. Wayne, in the last leg of his career, can’t muster as much charisma as the younger Clint Eastwood does in Dirty Harry. We’ve definitely seen Wayne feistier in other films, so it would have been nice to see him let loose more in this one. The film’s highlights are two car chases, including a climactic three-car chase on a sandy shoreline. Eddie Albert, Clu Gulager, and Julie Adams also appear in the film.