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The Economist reporter Jack Elgin, a workaholic, takes his family on a working trip to India, where he is to interview the PM. But their US airplane is hijacked in Limassol (Cyprus) by the unknown August 15 terrorist movement, which ends up in a bloodbath. Jack can save his pre-teen son Andrew, literally in his arms, but his wife and daughter are among the slaughter victims. Western governments seem unwilling to go after the fiends, even hide the identity of a high-profile fatal victim. Although now a single father, Jack uses all his contacts and snooping skill to seek the truth himself. A London-based Serbian free newspaper editor sets him on the trail of four Balkanic killers, but is murdered. Jack decides to exact revenge himself, tipped-off by Sûreté-contact Dugay. Meanwhile US embassy official Davidson and FBI Special Agent Jules Bernard play a key part in the official, MI5-lead investigation, which ends up crossing Jack's path. Written by
Absorbing and intelligent, FOURTH ANGEL uses its London (and briefly Paris) setting skilfully to show the story of a man seeking to avenge the murder of his family by what appear to be terrorists. The film raises (lightly but thoughtfully) questions of how civilized people ought to react to outrageous attacks upon them and muses over the rights and wrongs of vigilantism. Jeremy Irons reminds us again that he is one of the best screen actors in the world; the pain and distress which he etches in his role as the bereaved father is very moving. Forest Whitaker makes the most of an underwritten part and when he and Irons come face to face in the climactic scenes they are a magnificent duo of powerful screen presences. This film will, presumably, disappear in the aftermath of September 11th events. Which is a pity since in its modest way it actually has something to say. And that's rare enough in the world of thrillers.
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