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A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but imprisoned opposition leader. Written by
Richard Young <email@example.com>
I discovered this film when I was like 14 because I was obsessed with the Bond movies, after watching "The Wild Geese" I developed another obsession. No film is for everyone, but this one has a lot to love, especially for fans of the genre and the cast.
Richard Burton plays Allen Faulkner, an aged British mercenary hired by a multinational company to lead a team into Africa and rescue the president of a war-torn nation to serve their purposes. It sounds like simple action fluff. It isn't. All the men Faulkner brings along, many of whom are members of his old crew, have families they might not see again. The biggest focus of these is Richard Harris (in a great performance) as Capt. Janders who is the single parent to his son Amiel. There's also the complications that ensue when their mission changes purposes midway through. Most importantly is that this film is scripted by Reginald Rose, who gave us "Twelve Angry Men".
Also featured are Roger Moore and Hardy Kruger. Moore is the one I watched the film for, and gives a typical Moore performance. Krugar, however, is given the more interesting character. Like the rest, he's an aging mercenary, unlike the rest he's South African and prejudiced against black people. The man they rescue, Julius Limbani (Winston Ntshona) is black and Kruger's character must either save a man he sees as less than human or come to grips with his racism.
Andrew V. McLaglen is not what I'd call a great director, but he does fine here. He keeps a good pace that balances the action and drama. A few of his decisions are a might distracting, but I think this is more a reflection of mainstream cinema at the time than one filmmaker's failings. This movie is still a gift to adventure fans and it asks the right questions.
The sequel, made after Burton's death, is a different thing altogether. If ever you see "The Wild Geese 2", don't expect what you got here.
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