A radical terrorist, Shepherd (John Quentin), and his followers have kidnapped a British ambassador in hopes of releasing some of their friends from prison, but the escape plan fails....at first. Another terrorist, Petrie (Ian McShane), catches wind of the police's plan to catch Shepherd and hijacks an airliner full of people, sitting on a tarmac waiting to take off until Shepherd can get free. With the plane sitting on Scandinavian soil, the head of security, Colonel Tahlvik (Connery), is called in to handle the situation. With two different groups to handle though and hundreds of lives at stake -- not to mention a country's reputation -- something doesn't add up. Can Tahlvik figure it all out before it's too late?
I stumbled across this one at Netflix thanks to the casting of Connery and McShane, my curiosity getting the best of me despite the average to below average rankings and reviews. It's not a bad movie, but it is far from a good movie either. Director Caspar Wrede shot much of his movie on location in Oslo where the movie is set so that's a positive. It's a gloomy, dark setting that reflects the darkness of the story, and I can't say I've seen too many movies with Oslo as the main setting. Jerry Goldsmith's blaring soundtrack is overused if anything, telegraphing whatever is about to happen in terms of twists or action, but it is catchy so I'll give them that. Listen to the main theme HERE. The little things like location and music are interesting if flawed so where did the story go wrong?
That would be in the script. The version I saw was just 88 minutes long, giving the feeling that there were some significant cuts from a longer (hopefully better) movie. What's there though lacks any sort of tension or intent to get something done. Connery's Tahlvik never seems too worried or too interested in the situation at hand. There's a plane full of hostages sitting on a tarmac about to be blown up, and he's more worried about his lunch. I reviewed the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three over the last several weeks, a film dealing with a similar topic but handled much, much better. It's well thought out and more importantly, the execution of the thought comes through. Even at just 88 minutes, 'Terrorists' drifts along until enough things have happened, and an inevitable confrontation must present itself, but more on that later.
If you're interested in seeing this one, it's most worthwhile for the casting of Connery and McShane. Not his best performance by a long shot for Connery, but he's one of those few actors who is very watchable even when the movie is bad. He gets to scream and yell at times, trying to put down his first ever hijacking. McShane is a little better with the showier part, the terrorist making a sacrifice to save his fellow terrorists who've gotten in too deep. Like Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in 'Pelham,' the best scenes -- however brief -- in Terrorists is Connery and McShane talking over a radio to each other, negotiating whenever possible. Unfortunately without another recognizable name in the rest of the cast, no one else leaves much of an impression, good or bad.
As things developed, I'm thinking 'Hhmm, this ending could be interesting.' How will they wrap this one up? The ending doesn't disappoint in that it does deliver a twist that I didn't see coming (although it is hinted at). When you first see it, the twist makes sense and is even pretty cool. But then you start thinking about it, and the whole thing falls apart. Disappointing because there is some quality in that reveal, quality in the potential for the ending. A lackluster film, one that never amounts to a whole lot despite some solid performances from the stars.
The Terrorists <---TV promo (1974): **/****