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  Ransom Norway To Get Away
Year: 1974
Director: Caspar Wrede
Stars: Sean Connery, Ian McShane, Jeffry Wickham, Isabel Dean, John Quentin, Robert Harris, James Maxwell, William Fox, Harry Landis, Norman Bristow, John Cording, Christopher Ellison, Richard Hampton, Preston Lockwood, Karen Maxwell, Colin Prockter
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is a situation going on in Oslo as the British ambassador (Robert Harris) is held hostage at his home with his housekeepers by British terrorists who wish to secure a ransom from his government: the release of a number of their members from custody. The British have agreed to this to a point, but the Norwegian authorities have become involved as well since the whole crisis is on their territory, especially as the nearby Oslo airport is where the terrorist leader, Martin Shepherd (John Quentin), plans to take the ambassador and his staff there to be picked up by an airliner, whereupon it will take off and he and his men will parachute out over a secret location. To do this they have hijacked a plane with help of the very capable terrorist second in command Ray Petrie (Ian McShane)...

There's only one man who can stop these shenanigans, and that's Sean Connery in his immediately post-James Bond era of the nineteen-seventies where he was trying out all sorts of roles in a bid to flex his acting muscles that he felt he was not getting a chance to do otherwise in his blockbusters. Ransom, also know as The Terrorists, fell between those two stools of a substantial role and a suspense thriller, which basically left it as the sort of dramatic yarn played out in the action series on television of this era, certainly looking ahead to the plots Bodie and Doyle would get stuck into during The Professionals a short time later. There was one thing missing from that formula here.

Which was the love interest to prove the hero was reassuringly heterosexual, presumably because with Connery on board there was no doubt of that whatsoever, indeed any female characters were given short shrift, either as hostages, a single terrorist who gets to fire a very significant bullet, or the wife of the ambassador (Isabel Dean) who harangues Connery's Norwegian authority figure about her husband's heart condition and how this whole affair is taking weeks off his already frail life the longer it drags on. The lawman, Colonel Nils Tahlvik, finds himself embarking on a battle of wits with both Shepherd and Petrie where each must be negotiated off one another by both the Norwegians and the British, which begs the question, since when did the British government negotiate with terrorists?

Since never, really, though there was an explanation for that should you stick with Ransom to the bitter end, bitter being the operative word with the Norwegians coming out of this shaken up but wiser, and the Brits not looking very good at all thanks to screenwriter Paul Wheeler - who seemed to be adapting a departure lounge paperback but wasn't - insisting on including a variety of twists, increasing right up to the grand finale. That much of this took the form of tense conversations either in offices or over the radio to the cockpit or the ambassador's mansion did make it sound a lot drier than it was, though there were action sequences dotted throughout to keep the audience on their toes, yet it was one of those movies where hero and villain do not meet until the very end.

Mind you, Captain Kirk never meets Khan at all in Star Trek II, so it's not always an indication of a lacking plot, and McShane did work up an air of smugness when time and again he gained the upper hand over Tahlvik. The pilot of the aeroplane manages to stall the plan by bursting the tyres as they land, necessitating a whole new set that will take hours to replace, an example of a neatly conceived bit of writing from Wheeler that treats us with the intelligence we need to follow what does grow rather convoluted: miss a few crucial lines of dialogue and you may find yourself wondering what the hell everyone thought they were doing come the bloody climax. If you do keep up, you will appreciate a smart yet cynical thriller with everyone acting through gritted teeth to various degrees; this was an era when international terrorism seemed to be in the headlines almost daily, and to an extent Ransom exploited that real life air of chaos having to be managed with no nonsense action, even if the last revelation thrust this into conspiracy theory land. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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