Inspector Harry Callaghan seems to utter a profound truth. How can knowing your limitations be a positive thing?
In Magnum Force, legendary “Dirty Harry” played by Clint Eastwood dishes out justice. If we look beyond the methods he uses for a moment, there is a strong message.
By being content with who he is, Harry has no desire for grandeur and position. He tries to work within the law to do best at what he is for: to fight crime.
He points out the astonishing contradiction in his leader, who whilst declaring his passion for law and order, and never having drawn his weapon, sees no problem in recruiting a team of police rookies to murder crime bosses.
In the final scene Harry repeats the immortal words “a man’s gotta know his limitations” as his boss meets a grisly end.
But doesn’t Harry have real integrity here? Surely he is the one who achieves his aims, has the respect of his peers and influence in the community. He achieves all this without having to suck up and pretend to be something he isn’t.
By learning how to be great at what he does, and sticking to what he believes in, our hero becomes the leader.