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A throwback to old spy/wartime action movies...
on July 14, 2002
This is an interesting film, made with care and respect for the real-life heroes. However, it also is quite flawed, which is probably why it never made as huge an impact as the producers had hoped, either at the time of release or since.
Despite the famous cast on hand, the film feels more like a TV movie at times, while the story plays out like an old-time war/spy action film. There are plenty of cliches from this genre on hand, including the old regiment banding together once more, being trained on weapons and munitions at the last minute, an impossible task only the old fellows can achive, etc.
Another problem is that the exteriors were shot on location, which works some of the time, but leads to everyone except the actors wearing modern dress (complete with those ridiculously big collars left over from the 70's), having modern hairstyles, driving post-WWII automobiles, and the native residents of India staring and waving as they pass by the cameras.
Other than these points, the film is watchable and entertaining, and even sprinkled with decidedly British humor where appropriate. The top-notch cast makes up for any anachronisms, cliches, and lapes in logic. David Niven, Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, Trevor Howard, and others, save the day in what could have been a forgettable film. However, besides the cast, the ideas and much of the execution of the film both have merit, and this is indeed a true story. The facts of the mission were only released by the British government in 1978, and the film made a scant two years later.
For fans of Bond, we see Roger Moore doing something here that the newer Bond actors are now prohibited from doing; appearing during his reign as Bond in a non-Bond film wearing a tux (the tux being a Bond trademark of sorts). Also of note to Bond fans, the famous Maurice Binder created the stylized opening and closing credits.
The film is a bit light on action, but there is just enough dispersed throughout to keep things moving. While the film is no "Patton" or "The Longest Day" or anything, it is quite a watchable war/action/spy movie that is just perfect for viewing on a rainy Saturday afternoon.