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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
I have appreciated Jeremy Irons since Brideshead Revisited. An actor of much skill and emotional range, he can admittedly be faulted for the occasional bizarre choice of rolls, for example the pedophile in the Lolita remake and the mad bomber in Die Hard 3, performances that surely have him waking up nights in a cold sweat. In The Fourth Angel, he takes on a semi-action role, which is not his usual casting, and yes, he pulls it off, because his character is basically a brainy journalist who stumbles into the world of shoot-em-up terrorists. If he is to survive, he must figure out how the clip goes into the AK-47 and how to work the safety, and learn it even as the killers are coming down the hall for him.
There's no secret about the plot. His wife and daughter are slaughtered by terrorists and he discovers that governments are not going to lend a hand. The way he expresses both his grief and his outrage represent his art at its peak. This film is nicely written and paced, and reminded me of Defense of the Realm. The Fourth Angel has an important role for a young male actor, who does very nicely, and features a brief but pleasing appearance by Charlotte Rampling, who has made the transition from femme fatale to middle aged woman with great grace. (She will look better to some now than she did then.)
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