The Second World War is still raging but for top British spies Mallory (Robert Shaw) and Miller (Edward Fox) they plan on taking it easy from here on, especially as their greatest victory was the destruction of the famed guns of Navarone, thereby saving countless Allied lives. But now the top brass want them pressed into service one last time: an American colonel, Barnsby (Harrison Ford) is flying to Yugoslavia to carry out a mission there, and Mallory and Miller's boss wants them to accompany him to track down a traitor, Lescovar (Franco Nero), who is actually a Nazi spy...
The sequel to The Guns of Navarone, one of the most beloved, or at least the most watched, British war movies of all time, took the best part of two decades to arrive on cinema screens, inspired by that previous work's continuing success. Yet the old law of diminishing returns applied in most audience's minds, and Force 10 was lumped in with the sort of ageing men on a mission action flicks which were proliferating in the United Kingdom's movie industry at the time; they made money, but they weren't as respected as many of the efforts then regarded as classics of the decades past.
Which may be why the producers opted to hedge their bets and combine The Guns of Navarone with that other old reliable, the never off the telly The Dambusters as far as their plots went, which saw the band of brothers set out to, er, bust a dam before the end credits rolled as well as flush out the enemy spy into the bargain. Based on the Alastair MacLean novel, a sequel to his earlier bestseller, purists grumbled that they had taken too many liberties with the source and essentially rewritten what was a rollicking good yarn, but if you hadn't been aware of that it's unlikely it would have affected your enjoyment or otherwise. What the majority of viewers agreed upon was that Force 10 did not overshadow The Guns.
That said, it appeared they were more trying to complement the first production rather than take its place in the hearts of war movie fans, well, that and cash in on its good name though that was par for the course in sequel land. It had to be observed that this found it rather difficult to escape a distinctly hackeneyed feel to the proceedings, and the sense of having seen it all before was not so much warmly familiar than having to sit through this old story again. Still, the cast were interesting enough, with the main three heroes augmented by Carl Weathers as an insubordinate who jumps aboard the plane to Yugoslavia (no Navarone in this entry) and proves himself invaluable.
And also brings a racial message into the plot, as almost every character points out he's African American at some stage, most notably Richard Kiel's Partisan leader who turns out not to be as benevolent as he seemed, not that he seemed particularly friendly to Weathers' Weaver in the first place, though the good guy gets to kick the ass of the bad guy by and by. Weaver does take a liking to the posh Miller, perhaps more than a liking as he calls him "beautiful", "cute" and plants a great big kiss on him before the story is complete, but when the sole significant female role goes to Barbara Bach and she is roundly mistreated as the blessing in disguise, not appearing half as often as her billing might indicate, then that might have hinted this was a boy's own adventure and girls were not welcome. Shaw, in the final film he finished before he drank himself to death, is actually quite dashing, though Ford comes across as your typical American import, and unengaged. But as something to kill a bit of time on the telly, Force 10 is fair enough. Music by Ron Goodwin.