Allied agents stage a daring raid on a castle where the Nazis are holding American brigadier general George Carnaby prisoner, but that's not all that's really going on.Allied agents stage a daring raid on a castle where the Nazis are holding American brigadier general George Carnaby prisoner, but that's not all that's really going on.Allied agents stage a daring raid on a castle where the Nazis are holding American brigadier general George Carnaby prisoner, but that's not all that's really going on.
It is interesting to see Richard Burton in a role that demands little or no dialogue, especially considering this is a man who has rendered dialogue most exquisitely beautiful by the particular lilt of his voice. In this role he is frank and only speaks when necessary, therefore, seeing as how most of this film is action, he says very little. Some purists would fault Burton for taking a role that seems devoid of the usual acting challenges he appeared to enjoy attacking early in his career, but I disagree. This film is a departure from the normal Burton "oeuvre" and yet he does pull of the role of Major Smith convincingly. One does not expect this man to be either audacious nor flamboyant and Burton, whose very presence suggests a call for histrionics, executes this role quietly.
Now it is well known that Burton was not seeking a challenge by taking on this project, his primary concern was revamping his potency in the box-office by staring in a blockbuster. And he got it. But we cannot fault him for that because he possessed the facility as an actor to pull it off. Burton could be both a dramatic performer and a daring sex symbol. Besides, standing alongside a veritable "tough-guy" like Eastwood, Burton needed to be able to hold his end up because the movie going audience had already identified Eastwood as the quintessential tough guy. Had Burton not been up to the task, this film would not have been a success.
The script is entertaining and has a few notable twists in it, a testament to the skill of screenwriter and adventure novelist Alistair MacClain. Character development is not of particular importance in this story and yet one does come away with a palpable sense of Major Smith, a fact that I again acknowledge is the handywork of Burton, whose presence is auspicious regardless of his role. Overall, this film appears to be able to balance the rhythmic quietude of action while interjecting enough personal flair to make the film memorable and not another futile exercise in on-screen action and viewer instant gratification/escapism. This movie is one of the best in its genre and is worth a good viewing.
- Jun 18, 2001