Thursday, December 10, 2015

Movie review - "The Sea Wolves" (1980) **

Follow up to The Wild Geese with many of the same cast and crew - it was even meant to have Richards Burton and Harris as well but they became unavailable, being replaced by Gregory Peck and David Niven.

This has the advantage of being based on a true story and has a great central concept - over the hill soldiers being left out of the war get a chance to do something heroic - but they don't develop it properly. The focus of the action should have been on David Niven and co, fat Blimp types who get a last minute chance to be heroic. There is ample opportunity for comedy, poignancy, even romance... Dad's Army showed how it should be done.

But instead we get all this time devoted to spy shenanigans involving Roger Moore, who is clearly young, lithe and active - he runs around Goa, romancing a femme fetale, collecting information. At times the film comes close to being a Moore star vehicle instead of an ensemble piece. There's also Gregory Peck who, again, is an active soldier. The film is weighed far too much towards them - namely, conventional war stories - rather than what would've made this special. It needed more of David Niven, Trevor Howard, Patrick Macnee, etc. There is some but not enough.

The script isn't as good either - it lacks clearly defined characters and structure. There's no sense of the British Empire fading, or life in India. There are some good bits like the killing of Trevor Howard, and the final raid is well done, but it's disappointing.

England produce so many great character actors and the story is so strong - based on a true incident, no less - that I think Euan Lloyd should give some serious thought to remaking this. Imagine it with Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, etc...

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