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During World War One a British aristocrat, an American entrepreneur and the latter's attractive young daughter, set out to destroy a German battle-cruiser which is awaiting repairs in an inlet just off Zanzibar.
When a senior Russian official, Gen. Marenkov, decides to defect to the west, CIA agent Harry Wargrave is sent to lead the team to get him out. Malenkov reveals that the Russians are trying to develop biological weapons. Wargrave decides that Malenkov should travel across Europe by train, on the "Atlantic Express", in an attempt to try and lure the Russians into attacking the train so that they can discover who the Russian secret agents in Europe are. During the journey they must survive terrorist attack and an avalanche, all planned by Russian spy-catcher Nikolai Bunin. Written by
Awful attempt at blending a political thriller with disaster movie shenanigans, Avalanche Express is also a sad end to the careers of Robert Shaw (Jaws/The Sting) and Mark Robson (The Seventh Victim/Bedlam). Both of whom died during the production.
Plot essentially sees Shaw's Soviet official, Marenkov, defecting to the west whilst aiming to kill off his homeland's biological weapons programme in the process. Basically putting himself up as bait to flesh out the baddies, Marenkov is being protected by Lee Marvin's CIA agent Harry Wargrave and his pals. Cue a train snaking through the snowy mountains as they all try to evade an avalanche and some shifty types attempting to spoil the mission.
There's a whole bunch of talking and a whole bunch of actors drifting in and out of the film without making a mark. The action, what little there is, is slip-shod and the dubbing of Shaw only brings more sadness to what is quite simply a sad movie! Jack Cardiff's photography is crisp and deserves a better film, and even though the model work on show is a bit hit and miss, it does have a quaintness that steers you away from the turgid screenplay. But all told it's a boring mess of a movie and really only one for Marvin and Shaw fans to tick off of their lists. 3.5/10
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