The Holcroft Covenant takes its cue from a bestseller by the prolific Robert Ludlum. I've read the book and it's pretty good, with lots of globe trotting adventures and some startling twists and turns. It also takes upwards of 600 pages to tell its complex tale. The film version misses out most of the events from the book, yet tries in vain to remain faithful to the key plot points.... however, any film which tries to tell a 600 page story in less than two hours is doomed before it even begins. There's no surprise that this film is a muddled, intractable, poorly developed misfire. The story involves an inheritance in Nazi money which falls into the hands of several German descendants in the 1980s. The money is supposed to be a sort of compensation payment for the suffering and misery caused by WWII, but some of the inheritors are evil people and intend to use the money for nefarious purposes. Michael Caine plays one of the inheritors, Noel Holcroft (hence the title), and he sets out to ensure that it is used for good causes, but he finds that various others will kill to keep him from getting his hands on his rightful share.
The film is a terrible mess, and it's only too apparent that those involved were in it for the money. Every single performance is lazy. Frankenheimer once made great movies like The Manchurian Cnadidate and The French Connection 2, but here he is guilty of directing a listless hodge-podge that bears no trace of originality or flair. Caine has made too many bad movies, but this ranks amongst the very worst. No questions about it: this is a surefire low point for just about everyone involved.