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Wild Geese II
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by Jack Sommersby

"Another So-What? Sequel"
2 stars

Almost went straight to video, which would've served it right.

The mediocre Wild Geese II is a completely unnecessary sequel to the fine 1978 The Wild Geese that showcased a great cast including Richard Burton, Roger Moore and Richard Harris in its telling of a group of British mercenaries hired to rescue a political prisoner in West Africa. The movie was uneven and somewhat protracted, but it was all of a decently engineered piece in delivering the goods; and it certainly didn't hurt that the characters were all interesting and three-dimensional, which is not often the case in the action genre. This time around, though, not only is it devoid of all those qualities, it's quite barely a sequel at all in that not a single character from the original returns: the specious connection is the excellent actor Edward Fox's Alex Faulkner, the younger brother of Burton's now-deceased hero; Falkner is also a mercenary, but when he's offered a lucrative offer from the European division of an American news network to break out of prison the eighty-nine-year-old German Rudolf Hess (Laurence Olivier), who founded the Nazi Party and is the closest-guarded prisoner in the world, he respectfully declines. The network thinks Hess can implicate many people who were in secret dealings with the Nazis for a blockbuster of a story, but Faulkner balks at the near-impossibility of the task - the West Berlin Spandau Prison, which was made to house six-hundred prisoners but only has Hess as its sole occupant, is pretty much impenetrable, and escaping the country afterward would be just as problematic. Maybe in his younger days, Faulkner concedes, but recommends who he deems the best mercenary in the business, the American John Haddad (Scott Glenn), who even in Britain has past enemies trying to kill him. As it detrimentally turns out, Haddad is one glum fellow, and the usually-reliable Glenn, who was outstanding in John Frankenheimer's standout action picture The Challenge three years prior, gives a joyless, unvaried performance - he just isn't vivid enough and seems to be trying for a kind of quiet magnetism he just doesn't have. So with a clunker of a hero it's a good thing Faulkner agrees to be Haddad's second-in-command, for Fox is one charming rascal: he's just as suavely appealing as he was twelve years earlier as the assassin-for-hire in The Day of the Jackal, and the movie perks up whenever he's onscreen. It's unfortunate that the plot doesn't hold much interest (who cares if Hess is sprung?), which results in absolutely zero narrative immediacy, with the detailed preparations for the mission lacking the elegance and fascination of those in the much-superior Christopher Walken star vehicle The Dogs of War. (There's also a superfluous romantic subplot involving the beautiful but wasted Barbara Carrera that's best not loitered over.) But the real nail in the coffin is the stodgy, uninspired directing by Peter R. Hunt, who was responsible for one of the very best of the James Bond movies, 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and whose work here is inexplicably clunky at times - he can't even stage a simple fight scene between two men in a public restroom with competency. Mind you, Wild Geese II isn't terrible or anything, and Olivier has a rather poignant speech at the end when a remorseful Hess explains how his past history can't possibly make him worthy of a successful escape (though it's certainly not lost on the knowledgeable viewer that Olivier memorably played an innately evil Nazi in 1976's Marathon Man), yet the whole thing is so generically disposable not a single semi-admirable shot or sequence hangs in your mind. It's vacuous bordering on invisible.

Catch up with the original instead.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=33789&reviewer=327
originally posted: 09/26/20 08:08:25
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USA
  18-Oct-1985 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Peter R. Hunt

Written by
  Reginald Rose

Cast
  Scott Glenn
  Barbara Carrera
  Edward Fox
  Ingrid Pity
  Laurence Olivier



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