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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
Although the genre (revenge thriller) is a little dated and the cast hardly A-list, this is a constantly involving film which may delight an unsuspecting audience. Jeremy Irons is not everyone's natural choice for an action hero. However, casting him as the beleaguered Jack Elgin only serves to reinforce the intelligence and sensitivity with which the film's makers construct the story of an innocent man's quest for justice. Support from Forrest Whitaker (amusing, if hackneyed), Charlotte Rampling (bizarre accent/affectation) and Jason Priestly (smarmy, slick and spot-on) enriches the drama and the little boy is fantastic.
Action sequences are sporadic and small-scale compared with big-budget American movies like Planet of the Apes and A.I. but at least The Fourth Angel has characters about whom one cares and a story that, if not wholly original, is constantly involving.
London sparkles spectacularly and the overall look of The Fourth Angel makes you wonder why other British-set films feel cheap and TVesque. The score is a little intrusive but the soundlessness of the Seventies seems a distant memory with modern films choosing to instruct the audience exactly how it should react with over-the-top strings and drums. End of rant. See The Fourth Angel.
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