A war veteran tries to investigate the murder of his son who was working as a Russian translator for the British intelligence service during the Cold War. He meets a web of deception and paranoia that seems impenetrable...
John Preston is a British agent with the task of preventing the Russians detonating a nuclear explosion next to an American base in the UK. The Russians are hoping this will shatter the 'special relationship' between the two countries.
A British agent's son is kidnapped and held for a ransom of diamonds. The agent finds out that he can't even count on the people he thought were on his side to help him, so he decides to track down the kidnappers himself. Written by
At the start of the film where the van is blown up on the motorway, it becomes clear that the scene is filmed on an incomplete stretch of motorway (possibly the M3, which was completed in 1974) as lane markings are missing from one carriageway. See more »
The opening credits are formed from images of children's alphabet blocks. See more »
For this work, scenes of "action", a Don Siegel specialty, are less significant than those that generate characterization and plot, functioning to release tension rather than keep it at bay, although the director's customary taut pacing and stoniness are here, within a twisty story largely faithful to its source, a Clive Egleton novel: "Seven Days to a Killing", strongly scripted by Leigh Vance to further define the character-focused film. A cleverly fresh storyline involves a kidnapping, the victim being son of MI-5 operative John Tarrant (Michael Caine), with a ransom demand for greater than one half million pounds worth of uncut diamonds that are resting within a Defence Ministry safe, as an unknown traitorous official has informed the abductors, with subsequent dual scenario devices of Tarrant's struggle to retrieve his son held by illicit arms syndicate villains, along with Ministry efforts to culpably link Tarrant with the conspiracy. The film benefits from attention to continuity, no loose ends rupturing one's concentration, with heed to detail perhaps its primary strength, yet telling contributions come from many, including players Caine, who adds a needed element of engagement to his Harry Palmer persona, Delphine Seyrig giving a splendidly nuanced performance as companion of the principal evildoer (played with effectual guile by John Vernon), and Donald Pleasence earning the acting laurels here as a dispassionate MI-5 security chief, along with Clive Revill, Joss Ackland, and ever intense Janet Suzman.
Siegel's hand is apparent in the spare deployment of music, with scoring and silence each appropriately employed; palette and filter for well-composed cinematography and montage (shooting is in London, Paris and the Sussex countryside); a symbolic use of clothing colours; and accomplished post-production efforts, all increasing the worth of a piece undervalued by some reviewers, indeed by Caine himself, unfortunate in the event as the film is one of Siegel's finest, his skill with improvisation mating well with capable workmanship.
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