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 ... See full summary »
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 who is also critically ill and due for execution. Just when the team has performed a perfect rescue, the multinational does a deal with the vicious dictator leaving the mercenary band to escape under their own steam and exact revenge. Written by
Richard Young <email@example.com>
Watching The Wild Geese puts me so in mind of those old John Ford cavalry flicks. Not surprising since the Director Andrew McLaglen learned his trade while on the set of those films with his father Victor McLaglen.
A fine cast was assembled here for this film. Richard Burton, Roger Moore, and Richard Harris certainly have all done better stuff, but their skill makes The Wild Geese enjoyable. Of the three, I think Harris comes off the best, his scenes with his young son are very poignant.
Richard Burton is a mercenary who is being offered a contract by gazillionaire industrialist Stewart Granger. Train and equip a group of mercenaries to rescue a Nelson Mandela type African leader who has been deposed in a military coup. Burton does the job, but when the job is finished he and his mercenaries find getting out a whole lot more than the bargained for.
Starting with Where Eagles Dare, Burton was trying the action/adventure genre on for size and he did well with that. He came up way short with Raid on Rommel, but recouped quite a bit with The Wild Geese. It was his only joint film venture with Richard Harris, pairing both the stage and screen King Arthurs from Camelot.
Of course action adventure is old hat for Roger Moore. He was in his prime as James Bond when The Wild Geese was done. But Moore shows he can be quite serious here. None of the tongue in cheek deadpan that characterizes a Bond film.
The scenes dealing with the recruiting a training of the mercenaries come straight out of John Ford. So are the various types among the soldiers.
I liked Kenneth Griffith's portrayal of the openly gay medic with the group. Yes he's certainly stereotypical, but the point is he's accepted by the men who really don't care about his sexual orientation when in a fight. Secondly he turns out to be quite the John Wayne type hero in the end.
The Wild Geese turned out to be very popular, Burton was going to do a sequel Wild Geese II when he died in 1983. Might have been interesting had he done it since it would have paired with Laurence Olivier in that one.
The Wild Geese is an action/adventure film to be sure, but it's also about loyalty, tradition, and camaraderie. These men may fight for a good paycheck, but they are fanatically loyal to the unit created and to each other.
If that ain't John Ford.............................
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