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  Wild Geese II Boo HessBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: Peter Hunt
Stars: Scott Glenn, Barbara Carrera, Edward Fox, Laurence Olivier, Robert Webber, Robert Freitag, Kenneth Haigh, Stratford Johns, Derek Thompson, Paul Antrim, John Terry, Ingrid Pitt, Patrick Stewart, Michael Harbour, David Lumsden, Billy Boyle
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: An American television company has one big ambition: get hold of Rudolf Hess as a guest for their leading chat show as the ratings would go through the roof. To that end, they bring in professional mercenary soldier Alex Faulkner (Edward Fox) to their London offices and the boss (Robert Webber), calling on the telephone from across the Atlantic, eagerly tries to persuade him as Faulkner is shown a newsreel of what Hess was famous for - being Adolf Hitler's deputy, then escaping to Scotland to try to halt the Second World War. The mercenary thinks he knows who would be ideal for the job...

Back in the eighties, a minor obsession in the media was Rudolf Hess, who the news outlets would return to time and again due to the fact he was still alive and the only inmate in Spandau Prison. He didn't actually show up in fiction much, unless comedy sketches counted, aside from the book this was based on and the film itself, but the timing was everything as if they had been delayed any longer Hess would have ruined their plotline after his suicide in his cell. Someone else who died, and messed up proceedings to an extent in the process, was Richard Burton: he was all set to reprise his role from Brit action non-classic The Wild Geese when he promptly expired.

Not wishing to be seen to be resuming work on this sequel with undue haste, producer Euan Lloyd placed a tribute to Burton at the beginning, basically a montage of all his highlights from the first film, which served to do little but remind those who had actually enjoyed that how far from the source this follow up was. There had been a craze in the late seventies and early eighties for putting together ageing stars for a men on a mission movie, presumably because if nothing else it kept them busy while waiting for the bars to open and reminded audiences (and producers) they were still alive and available for work, but Wild Geese II was a very belated addition to the genre. The eighties action flick had moved on apace, and this looked very old-fashioned.

As this was a British production, perhaps they were hoping to turn back the clock, but instead it had audiences checking their watches to see just how much longer this had to draw out its premise. After a lot of low level interest espionage you realise you're only still watching because you're intrigued to see what Sir Laurence Olivier's eyebrows will be like, that enormous brow being the most prominent feature of the real Hess, but even then it looks as if he has a couple of caterpillars trained to "stay" while he performed his scenes. He only shows up in the last half hour, spends most of that playing unconscious, and then gets a speech and a final scene where he may give the thumbs up but doesn't divert attention away from this being a complete waste of his talents.

Not to mention that denouement rendering the whole movie a complete waste of time from the characters' points of view, especially the ones who have died. Apart from the fact the plot is about getting one of the top surviving Nazis on a chat show (were they hoping for humorous anecdotes and helping out with the cookery slot?), which could have been entertaining in a ridiculous manner, what most brought this down to grinding boredom was its insistence on putting leading man Scott Glenn through a conspiracy which he clearly has no interest in, never mind us watching. The enervated quality of his performance is almost hypnotic, as if he were about to slump to the floor in a display of utter ennui - it gave new meaning to the phrase "going through the motions". As his team are assembled, KGB operatives (one of whom actually says "Ve ask ze questions!") insist on including an obnoxious Irishman played by Charlie from long running soap Casualty, who seems to be there to wake everyone up as to how offensive he can be. But it's too late, Wild Geese II's tedium is incurable. Music by Roy Budd.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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