Philip Kimberly, the former head of the British Secret Service who defected to Russia, is given plastic surgery and sent back to Britain by the KGB to retrieve some vital documents. With the documents in hand, he instead plays off MI6 and the KGB against each other. Written by
Sir Philip Kimberley is a former M16 intelligent general who defected to the Russians in the 70s, returns back to his home country after faking his death. He receives plastic surgery on his face, so he could go into England to pick up very important documents that he has hidden which has KGB agents working in England. Knowing that the British thinks his dead, he escapes the KGB men and defects back to the British as a Russian spy. He goes on to basically play each other off, in the hope he can pick up a large amount of doe and go on to live a new life, along with his daughter.
"The Jigsaw Man" is pretty much a fundamental Cold War thriller, which feels clammy and looks like a cheap b-grade spy film. The routine material (taken off Dorothea Bennett's novel) wants to be crafty with many plot tricks involving double crossings, disguises, ever-changing accents and secret documents. But with these aspects, there's just too much restraint and haggard developments in what is mainly a story and dialogue driven outing. You'll need these elements to be strong and convincing, but a stated script completely drags and spits out some bawdy lines. The serious nature of it, can come across quite laughable and ludicrous. While the chunky plot offers a labyrinth of turns, it can be meandering and vapid in many shady situations. These twisty developments running through the story are well organised, but never in a astute manner. Thrills are minimal, but the elaborately taut layout breaks out for an action flourish towards the latter end. Even then, the minor pockets of get-up-and-go just can't break the slumber for too long. Terence Young's pedestrian direction seems to go missing in very long spells, but Freddie Francis' polished photography and John Cameron's steamily leeching music score doesn't follow the same fate. The cast is an excellent one. Michael Caine is decent enough, even though it's not quite an inspired performance and provides nothing more then a sour-face. Laurence Olivier provides class, but again he's left with not too much on offer. One very underrated Robert Powell gives a reliably understated turn and Susan George is sparklingly potent in her supporting role.
Incredibly patchy and at times hollow, but still a sturdy espionage thriller. The main problem is that it lingers about in too many chewy sequences then really getting on with it.
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