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Peter R. Hunt
Daniel J. Travanti,
Yes, Richard Burton died before filming this (he's only seen in the pre-title sequence that is footage from the first Wild Geese film---and really of no consequence to the sequel's story). Perhaps Burton saw the script for this mess and realized there was no reason to go on living. There is certainly no reason to go on watching this thing, that's for sure. It's all about some muddled kidnapping of Rudolf Hess from Spandau prison. Seems the British, the Germans, the Soviets and the scriptwriter all want to have a hand in either killing or keeping Hess alive. When we finally get a look at Hess, after 90+ minutes of tedious intrigue, it turns out that that the kidnappers have goofed and grabbed Sir Laurence Olivier instead---and not the good Olivier, but the decrepit 'Jazz Singer' version. Sir Larry, that sly ol' dog, thinks he can fool us with a Hess-like unibrow and that 'Marathon Man' German accent, but we're not buying it. The kidnappers aren't either and dump Sir Larry/Hess at the French Embassy in Berlin. The real Hess died in 1987 (hung himself in his cell, perhaps after viewing this film) and Olivier followed in 1989. Time passages.....
Oh, there is something of interest in this film, at least for fanciers of woodworking. That would be Scott Glenn's performance. There is a point in the film where he appears badly injured but I'm thinking it's a cover-up for an obvious case of attack by termites. At one risible point, the benumbed Glenn re-tells his sorrowful back-story of family slaughter to Carrera with the closing line: "Death ate its way into me." That's code for termites. Or perhaps Novocaine ate its way into him. Glenn had already tried out his zombie-style "acting" before in 'The Keep', but this is the topper: you'll be hard-pressed to find a more appallingly flat performance recorded on film. At least Edward Fox (doing his 'Day of The Jackal' thing) is lively. Otherwise you get Robert Webber literally phoning in his performance, all two minutes of it, and Patrick Stewart doing a small bit (complete with bad accent) as a Soviet military man, and Stratford Johns practically faxing Sydney Greenstreet from the dead as a chuckling, gargantuan wheeler-dealer. Paul Antrim gets the Sergeant Major Harry Andrews part, and Derek Thompson gets the nonsensical IRA soldier gig. For some reason Thompson's character, in his attempts to sneak away to report to his superiors, feels the need to keep spiking Fox's character with LSD. Guess the IRA frowns on complicated solutions... like using sleeping pills. And there's also the main caper requiring our heroes to impersonate British soldiers, but Glenn can't even manage the slightest accent. Somehow the real British soldiers guarding Hess, when confronted by the very out-of-place Glenn shouting at them with his harsh American accent, do his bidding without question. Well, at least there is a bright side: there hasn't been a Wild Geese III. Yet.
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