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"The Human Factor" is a typical revenge movie in the wake of "Dirty Harry",
"Death Wish" and "Straw Dogs" with an American special agent and computer
specialist in Italy losing his family by a terrorist's assault at his home
and taking bloody revenge.
This British-Italian co-production from 1975 contains many typical subplots of the seventies - conspiracy movies, secret agent films, left-winged political terrorism, high-tech-computers and revenge dramas. George Kennedy plays the hero and does a good job as hard-edged, desperate family father turning to a merciless killer, although he is no Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson. Especially in a long hunting scene overweight Kennedy seems to be very out of breath...
The scripts lacks a bit of logic sometimes, as the real motivation of the terrorist group is never really explained, but all in all the film keeps the action, thrills and suspense always going and adds some very scary moments and furious action sequences, especially the big showdown in a supermarket. Ennio Morricone's sound tracks puts even more thrills and atmosphere to this dark political thriller that can be seen as a "sleeper" for fans of seventies' hardcore action cinema. Recommended!
I generally don't care for revenge films but this was a rare exception!
I did not see it when it was first released, but a few years later
while I was working as an American ex-patriot in Saudi Arabia. My
family and children were with me in Saudi, and we lived on the local
economy, as George Kennedy did in the movie. This movie really hit home
with me and a lot of other ex-pats that were overseas at the time! It
showed how vulnerable we really were living in a foreign country where
we were quite often resented for even being there!
I've always been a George Kennedy fan, even though he's probably not the greatest actor of all time. He's a very likable and believable actor that consistently does a good job! I give him and this film both of my thumbs up!
I highly recommend this film to anyone that is even thinking about taking a job in a foreign country!
Having just finished reading Maltin's one line summary of this film, I have to assume that he didn't see it, or has forgotten it if he did. "A violent, bloody chronicle..." he opines. Any man who truly loved his family would become violent and would spill the blood of those who took away his most cherished things on earth, his wife and children. I saw this film during it's initial release in Europe in 1975 and it gave me an enhanced appreciation for my family. I highly recommend it and will purchase it on DVD if it's available. The only reason I don't already own this film is I'd forgotten the title over the years. Thanks to the staff of IMDb for the excellent filmographies that allow searches of this type.
When I first saw this movie, I was only 9 years old. The movies idea, losing one's entire family to terrorists, haunted me for years. George Kennedy's strong portrayl of a father who is obsessed about tracking down the killers of his family, can easily be outdone by newer more daring plots. For it's time though, The Human Factor was 'on the edge of your seat' suspense that left you with a weary, empty feeling when the movie was over. Although dated, I feel it can still create an emotional response for someone who looks for more than special effects in a picture. Too bad it is out of print.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** "Death Wish" like film with the big and as harmless as a
Teddy Bear John Kingsdale, George Kennedy, going ballistic when his
family is massacred by a gang of international terrorists in their home
in Naples Italy. Working for NATO as an electronic expert Kingsdale
with the help of his computer expert friend Mike McAllister, John
Mills, uses NATO's most state of the art commuter equipment, the
ironically named 9/11 computer system, to track down his family's
murderers and exact brutal revenge, not justice, on them.
Going against his good friend McAllister's advice in letting the law do the job of tracking his family's killers down Kingsdale with an 8% chance, according to he 9/11 computer system, of getting the job done and 92% chance of getting killed in trying goes all out in what seems like a kamikaze like attempt to finish the bloody job that he's about to start. A job that will leave a trail of corpses, terrorists and their victims, that is to end in a bloodbath at the NATO commissary in Naples!
Big George Kennedy despite his menacing size seems so out of shape that there's times in many of the movie chase scenes that he looks like he'll collapse from sheer exhaustion in chasing terrorists 100 pounds lighter and 20 years younger then himself. Getting a hold of one of the terrorists leader's the American Taylor, Thomas Hunter, Kennedy or Kingsdale needed a car to catch up with him in that there's no way to convince the audience that he could have done that on his own with just shoe leather! Huffing and puffing his way through the movie where in some scenes it looked like he needed oxygen to stay on his feet the almost out of breath Kingsdale finally gets to the NATO commissary where the terrorist group headed by Palestinian born Kamal, Frank Alvance, is hold up with some 100 hostages.
***SPOILERS*** Going into action before help, the Italian police and NATO forces, can arrive at the NATO commissary by driving a stolen car through it's front entrance Kingsdale blasts away at anything in his gun sights taking out the entire terrorist crew with Kamel the only survivor making a mad dash to the commissary's exits. With the heavy footed, at well over 250 pounds, Kingsdale catching up with him he makes sure that Kamel never gets a chance to stand trial by pumping a full magazine, that he reloaded his 9.mm with, of slugs into him!
This is the last film made by the famous director Ed Dmytryk before his death. However, he must have been failing more than in health, as his creative juices seem largely to have dried up for this one. I hate to say this, because two of my old pals were involved in the production: George Davis ('in charge of production') and Roy Parkinson, Production Manager. George and Roy liked to work together whenever possible, and I can just imagine that George raised a sizeable portion of the budget for this project. He died just after Christmas in 1999, and most of the films he worked on in his long career are not listed on IMDb. Production accountants often get no screen credits, although they are the custodians of all the producers' darkest secrets, and I learned a few from George! As for Roy, it appears that he is still alive aged 95, and I hope his charming wife Lana is too. George and Roy were two of the most honest and decent men I ever knew, and this seems a fitting occasion to pay tribute to both of them. There was one occasion in particular when I had to consult with them about a most important and difficult decision involving the jobs of many people, and their support helped me to make it and eased me through a crisis of conscience caused by an act of financial corruption by the Boulting Brothers. George Davis and Roy Parkinson came from a generation when loyalty and values still existed and were widely held, though such qualities are today a vanishing commodity in a world ruled by greed. George Kennedy was a curious choice for a lead actor in this action movie, as he was already a bit old and getting overweight. Of course, he is good, but he would have been better 10 years earlier. And this is in any case really a sixties movie made in the seventies. Much of the casting is of well known names from an earlier era who are either given very little to do so that their talents are wasted (such as Rita Tushingham and John Mills) or who look shockingly past their sell-by date, such as Raf Vallone looking like a ghost of himself. The script is weak, and Dmytryk does little to save it. This is one of those films where in the story vengeance is seen to be done, and there's none of that 'they should have a fair trial' stuff, so this is a particularly gritty suspense film. I only wish it had been a better one.
"The 'Human' Factor" is an interesting picture in several ways. The
title refers to its theme. George Kennedy's family has been slaughtered
by left-wing terrorists, and he seeks personal revenge. That's the
human factor, the personal element. Arrest by the police won't suffice
for him, and he tells John Mills, who is helping him locate the
terrorists and wants him to cooperate with the police, that he does not
understand this personal factor.
Another interesting thing is that this British production was filmed in Italy, has Italians in the cast (like Raf Vallone), and has a mixed group of terrorists. There is a car and foot chase too. This makes the movie play something like a poliziotesscho. I'm inclined to place it in that category, at least in part.
I also found very interesting the computer-assisted detective work done by Kennedy and Mills in the 1975 technology. Telephone modems were in use to connect. Capacity and memory were lower and more expensive, but the elements of interconnectivity and data banks being cross-referenced were already present and exploited in the movie.
George Kennedy was the lead in 1970 in another thriller named Zig Zag. He definitely has the acting chops for these parts.
The movie has a surprise or two along the way and in the climax. It has one or two slow spots in the computer end but the action soon resumes. The chase is interesting and realistic with the foot chase having two middle-aged men involved.
The content is unlike "Death Wish". Kennedy by no means is an assassin with a gun, and his quest is not an easy one. He struggles.
It's not a big or weighty or artistic movie, but it's a good solid one for what the story is.
Edward Dmytryk ended his feature directorial career with this rather
routine action film which is a little sluggish. The Human Factor was
hardly the kind of film that a celebrated director should have gone out
on. After all, Dmytryk has such classics as Murder My Sweet, Crossfire,
and The Caine Mutiny to his credit.
George Kennedy is our hero/protagonist who has his wife and three children executed by terrorists who made his the first targeted family of an extortion plan to kill an American family every three days if the USA does not pony up some large coin of the realm.
As Kennedy is a computer programmer working and living in Rome he has access to some real intelligence gathering machinery. Colleagues like John Mills and Rita Tushingham help. Kennedy upsets Italian police inspector Raf Vallone with his pro-active approach and doing his own investigation.
The Human Factor is a slow paced film, but it does have a nice action packed climax where Kennedy takes care of business the way Dirty Harry Callahn would. You'll enjoy if you can wait that long.
Did Edward Dmytryck really once direct The Caine Mutiny? On the evidence of
this totally uninvolving, blood stained revenge tale, it's hard to believe
that Dmytryck ever possessed any directorial talent. The Human Factor is
slow-moving, cynical and emotionless.
Also difficult to smallow is the presence of several fine actors. George Kennedy looks suitably frantic throughout, but is unable to make his predicament convincing due to poor scripting. John Mills has a major supporting role but his performance is as cold and inexpressive as the tone of the whole film. Raf Vallone (an Italian Oliver Reed look-a-like) meanders in and out of the story pointlessly as a policeman out to solve a multiple murder.
The story has Kennedy as a NATO war-game computer programmer who lives and works in Naples, Italy. He returns home one day to find his wife and children dead, clinically executed by a mystery gunman or gunmen. He uses his computer access to track down the killers, and figures out that those responsible are a terrorist gang intent on murdering American families that live in Europe. Instead of passing this information on to the police, he decides to turn vigilante, tracking down and killing the terrorists himself.
By 1975, film-makers clearly understood that audiences were hungry for Death Wish style revenge stories. But here, they have left out the sensational aspects of films like Death Wish, and tried (unsuccessfully) to give their story a political subtext. All this does is to slow down the action and make the plot treacherously confusing. The unpleasant finale, in which the villains lay siege to a crowded supermarket, is the only sequence which comes close to being powerful but it is over so quickly that you might miss it if you blink. All things considered, The Human Factor is a pretty dismal movie experience.
Although it surely didn't wow me, I think this movie had an interesting and somewhat suspenseful storyline. George Kennedy was practically a superhero here: running up flights of stairs and jumping rooftops without pausing for breath, nailing every target with his trusty handgun, and fighting the bad guys despite knife and bullet wounds. How did he do it? Anyway, it was an extremely serious film without a joke or gag in there (hard to believe from this that George went on to be in the Naked Gun trilogy), so don't put it on if you're almost out of anti-depressants. You can have a bit of fun by counting Pepsi references, though. I counted 3.
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