John Wayne, prized as a right-wing icon during the late 1960s and early 1970s, was often critical of Clint Eastwood during this period for the violent bleakness of his Westerns and the take-no-prisoners attitude of his Dirty Harry character. Apparently, he changed his tune, at least for the duration of this film's production, in which he stars as Lt. Lon McQ, an aging Seattle detective. When his best friend, narcotics cop Stan Boyle (William Bryant), kills two policemen before himself being shot, McQ's boss, Capt. Ed Kosterman (Eddie Albert), believes it to be the work of radicals, so he orders a roundup of same. McQ, however, believes that drug dealer Manny Santiago (Al Lettieri) might be responsible, since he's hired some shooters for what McQ believes is an imminent heist. This turns out to be the theft of impounded narcotics evidence, but when Santiago opens the glassine bags and finds only sugar, McQ realizes that his own department is corrupt. Furious at Kosterman because of his refusal to accept the evidence, McQ quits the department but continues to pursue the case on his own. The slow-moving, badly toupeed Duke seems sadly out of place in this urban cop film, which is serviceable enough on its own terms. Among the film's bright spots are a brilliant turn by Colleen Dewhurst as a sexy waitress and Elmer Bernstein's pulsating score.
John Wayne stars as an over-the-hill policeman who sets out to avenge the murder of his partner. During the investigation, he discovers an unsettling truth: that the deceased belonged to a group of crooked cocaine-stealing cops.