A dark tale of murder and intrigue, The Internecine Project (1974) stars James Coburn (Our Man Flint, Hard Times) as Robert Elliot, a brilliant economist living in London, who serves as an advisor to the US Senate. With a solid supporting cast, the film directed by Ken Hughes, is a tense drama where four of Elliot's associates in unethical activities, are maneuvered into murdering each other, as part of a twisted and brilliant master plan, to clear the way for Elliot's appointment to a politically sensitive job.
Coburn shines as the cold calculating Elliot, who smoothly sets up the players, to knock each other off. David Baker (Michael Jayston) a research scientist, civil servant Alex Hillman (Ian Hendry), masseur Albert Parsons (Harry Andrews), and Christina Larsson (Christiane Kruger) a high class call girl, are the unwitting players in Elliot's "project" who are set to eliminate each other on one particular night. Rounding out the cast are Keenan Wynn as a high powered lawyer with the connections to advance Elliot's career, and Lee Grant as a reporter who becomes romantically involved with Elliot.
Once the plan is set in motion, a relaxed Elliot waits in his darkened study, smoking a cigar and drinking brandy. Studying a map of London, he checks off items on a list, as his associates complete their assigned tasks in the precise order planned, highlighted by a brutal murder in the shower. Most of the scenes are filmed in low light, with the action nicely punctuated by Roy Budd's musical score. There are a couple of sticky spots, but things go almost exactly as planned, and the film concludes with Elliot on this way to the airport bound for America.
For those that enjoy watching a sister scheme unfold, The Internecine Project is a pretty good watch, at least the first time around. Repeat value may not be very high, in this heavy on atmosphere, but rather low on action affair that rates 3.5 stars. There isn't a lot of dialog, but Coburn's suave performance as a calculating schemer is enjoyable, in this fairly nicely executed production from Barry Levinson (The Natural, Rain Man). If you like Coburn in this, you may also want to check out Harry In Your Pocket (MGM Limited Edition Collection) (1973).