Scobie Malone (Rod Taylor) is an Australian police detective who one day when arresting a suspect on a sheep farm was interrupted by two officials driving up and speaking to him. Whether he liked it or not, he had an appointment with the Premier (Leo McKern) in Sydney, who had a mission for the cop: head off to the United Kingdom where an important meeting was taking place between some powerful men. The leader of these talks was statesman Sir James Quentin (Christopher Plummer), and by all reports he was making progress with world peace - such a pity he was a murderer.
Or was he? That's one of the conundrums concerning both Scobie and us in the audience in this Cold War thriller which at times came across as less a cash-in on the James Bond craze which had spawned so many imitators, and more like a cross between The Ipcress File and The Adventures of Barry Mackenzie. The latter would not arrive for a few years, but Malone was very much in that Aussie abroad manner in his pursuit of a decent glass of beer and his brusque, under no illusions manner he had about him, perfect for cutting through the crap to work out what was really going on and helping us work that out as well.
Malone made it very clear he didn't want to be in London at all, and indeed he seemed a curious choice in light of his introduction to us among those sheep, but perhaps that was a case of the moviemakers laying on his background rather thick. Once he's there, he decides to make the best of it and sets about trying to get Quentin back home, only there are complications, not least because in adapting the Jon Cleary novel some of the reasons behind what was going on were lost in translation, so for a start you were never entirely aware of what the statesman was getting up to in those talks, only that it was very important.
Making matters worse, when a shadowy group begins staging assassination attempts on Quentin, we're still none too sure of their motives other than they wanted him out of the way, although quite why they didn't simply encourage the extradition to place him thousands of miles away and unable to carry on with the discussions for a better world instead is the most baffling question to arise from this. Oh well, Malone was there now so he might as well get embroiled with all this malarkey, and finds himself acting as bodyguard to the man he was supposed to arrest when he agrees to hold off on escorting him back to Oz until the outcome of those meetings are favourable.
In the meantime there was a whole bunch of famous faces of the sixties wandering onto camera, not only Taylor and Plummer, but glamorous ladies as well. Lilli Palmer, an actress from an earlier era of style, was Quentin's wife who had her own secrets, Camilla Sparv was the secretary who took a shine to Malone, and Daliah Lavi showed up as the mystery woman who tried to seduce him but knows more than she is letting on - or for that matter more than the filmmakers were letting on as her exact place in the plot was somewhat murky even at the end. Nevertheless, star spotters could amuse themselves with the character actors of a certain vintage who regularly showed up to spar both verbally and (at times) physically with Taylor, and for tennis fans there was the added bonus of a sequence set at Wimbledon where Quentin goes to see a match and ends up targetted by a killer camera (it's hard to see who the players were, though, here's hoping one was Rod Laver). What you were left with went through the motions, but fair entertainment for all that. Music by Georges Delerue.