A British multinational company seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but imprisoned opposition leader who is also critically ill and due for execution. Just when the team has performed a perfect rescue, the multinational does a deal with the vicious dictator leaving the mercenary band to escape under their own steam and exact revenge.
Yesterday we sat down to watch another oldie that I had seen when I was younger quite some years ago. I remember this movie being quite high on my list of movies that I appreciated as a kid so when I saw it coming it on Blu-ray I had to get it. It is still a decent film but I remembered it as better.
The story is a fairly old a frequently reused one. Band of mercenary gets a mission by some person or entity of debatable reputation. Said person or entity double-crosses them, usually in a way which leaves them stranded and with a very short life expectancy. One or more of the mercenaries did not have his or hers imminent demise written into the script and thus ruins the plans, and usually the life, of one or more persons on the double-crossing side. Nothing wrong with a trusted and tried story as long as it is well done.
In 1978 when this film was made I guess the actions scenes were considered fairly good. Today they are rather mediocre though. The mercenaries that are supposed to be experts are behaving in a fairly amateurish manner. The bridge attack scene is especially annoying in that these people just sit there waiting for the plane to make pass after pass instead of getting their behinds under cover. In a later scene Richard Harris is seen shooting at the bad guys together with a bunch of his fellow mercenaries but his gun is pointing in a 30 degree angle upwards. He might have hit some real geese but sure as hell not any of the bad guys.
As so many films from the 70’s it also tries to make a political statement but that particular part is just boringly old today. A South African running around and calling the guy they are supposed to rescue for “kaffer” all the time because he is black is at best a historical curiosity, and a fairly boring one at that, today. Naturally a 5 minute, equally boring, speech from the black guy turns the South African guy. Boring and silly.
That is not to say that the movie is a bad one. It is still worth watching. The first parts of the movie, when the main characters are introduced, is quite enjoyable. I especially liked the bad attitude of Col. Faulkner. I have always liked Richard Burton as an actor and he doesn’t disappoint in this movie. Roger Moore is of course always Roger Moore. Whether or not you like him is another story. Also, even though it is not up to today’s standards there are plenty of watchable action in the later parts of the movie.
So I did enjoy my oldie movie evening but the movie was not as good as I remembered. But then that is maybe not too surprising when you re-watch a move that you first saw as a kid.
Richmond Productions by Andrew V. McLaglen, Reginald Rose, Daniel Carney.
Stars: Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, Hardy Krüger.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller, War
Keywords: africa kidnapping mercenary diplomat private army outlaw cult film
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