Basil Brookes (Dan Stevens) joins "Captain Bob" - press mogul Robert Maxwell (David Suchet) - as financial... See full synopsis »

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Basil Brookes (Dan Stevens) joins "Captain Bob" - press mogul Robert Maxwell (David Suchet) - as financial... See full synopsis »

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4 May 2007 (UK)  »

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Solid biopic driven by Suchet
13 May 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When Basil Brookes joins his board as financial director, Robert Maxwell owns hundreds of companies, is worth millions and is obsessed with his internal game of one-upmanship with fellow business magnate Rupert Murdock. Brookes finds himself taken in by Maxwell's larger than life character but with share prices dropping and Maxwell's determination that more public exposure for him is the answer, the empire starts to slide. As his advisors push him to offload assets to stabilise his debts, Maxwell pushes to go deeper into the hole to try and get out.

Although it very much a dramatised version of history that offers little sympathy to Maxwell, this film is interesting and engaging as it deals with a powerful and rich man. Like many powerful businessmen, Maxwell's money is not cash sitting in a bank and I did find it engaging to hear him discussing how wealth is about having access to wealth. On one hand he is correct of course but then on the other hand we already know where his attitude towards money. The film goes through the fall of Maxwell with broad brush strokes making up the story but this was never a film for the detail but rather a biopic of a caricature.

This is perhaps too harsh a comment though, because although the character is very much founded in this way, a strong performance by Suchet makes it much more than this and, in doing so, lifts the film as a whole. His Maxwell is suitably inflated and egotistical but he also adds just about enough madness and humanity to make the character interesting. Beyond him the support cast are little more than that – support; with Stevens, Caplan and others all filling in well enough. Director Barr has a very slight mocking tone but controls it to prevent it becoming a p1ss take before it turns darker.

A good television biopic then that goes through the story in good chunks but is mainly driven by a good central turn from Suchet, giving a performance that dominates without spiralling into ham at any point.


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