It isn't one major thing that makes the movie not work. The last half hour is realedge-of-the-seat stuff,perhaps almost bordering on psycho-thriller,butit really works. Acting-wise though the filmreally belongs to Nelligan,a tragically underused and beautiful actresswho has to go through the motions of loneliness and frustration,thanlust,then fear,and eventually heroism,and does so superbly. Perhaps it's no one's fault someone is ruthless. He is more of an existentially decisive, unbending envoy.
Worth watch over and over. But no woman would do what was done here, even a woman before the women's movement of the 60s and 70s. But before that, he poses as just a shipwrecked seafarer. The last third of the movie turns into a blood-spattered drama in which the action is more pertinent than the characterization. Those who dislike war films may find themselves surprised by this film.
It gives us time to weigh the character of the Needle, and to contemplate his exceptionally scant, mysterious allusions to what he feels versus what he thinks. I don't know what it is about Donald Sutherland's acting style, or vocal style, but he always seems to be acting from behind a massive wad of soggy Kleenex. It is compelling to build a plot like this at a studious tread, rather than rushing head on through it. On this one that game was over from the start. Adopted from Ken Follet's novel, The film successfullykeeps the tension on high level in just about every scene.
The picture and camera work is not as perfect as in today's big blockbusters but it doesn't shock because it is well compensated with historical details and facts from that war time. But darkness remains in your mind. After taking pictures of a supposed American military base to spoil the chances of an American blitz, his plans are temporarily diverted when the boat he steals while getting away from those dang Allied forces, washes away on a beach, where Kate Nelligan and her husband lives. The late Richard Marquand's second feature film is a gripping,suspenseful wartime drama about doomed love. So, at first I had trouble deciding if this film was great or justanother war film that would be forgotten about as the years progressed. But they don't know his secret, and Sutherland must somehow make contact with a German U-Boat before Time Runs Out!! He is for me one of the great actors that made many enjoyable thrillers.
Donald Sutherland is an obscure spy who frightens you during the whole film, with his scary eyes and his cold way of living, killing and dying. What about the dead husband? As played by Sutherland with a rather stand-offish, cool, and even critical manner, the Needle is a man no one knows. I've never read Ken Follet's novel but I got the impression it was something of a pot boiler that women read on sunny beaches so perhaps the story has been badly translated to screen? I mentioned earlier that I felt this wasa very humanistic film. Together they created more sparkson screen than most duos today. Well, it's made by the same director as Return of the Jedi.
And Nelligan, her appearance fittingly preceded by her co-star being adrift at sea, is disheartened by her husband's drunkenness and unwillingness to love, and becomes endeared to the stranger. Ithink the reason that it stood out was because director RichardMarquand develops two amazing characters and places them in a war torncountry, only to uproot them again into a place of beauty and nature. Next, we hardlyever are given a very human side to the villain in these stories. Throughout the film Sutherland remains the villain and does do somenasty things,but it's a measure of his performance that occasionally wedo come close to sympathising with him. German master spy discovers what potentially can be disasterous for the allies, where D-day is going to take place.
We can never be certain, though he tells her things he has told to no one else. Instead of an unambiguously good and evil clash, despite the melodrama of the last act, we have by then learned things about him that he may not even know about himself, and that is why the film's final scene is so much more intricate than it appears. It was a tough decision that required a day of thought. It is impressive to see this in a war film. The island vistas are breathtaking and Alan Hulme's pictures are richand moody. Then Sutherland is washed up on a Scottish island inhabited by acrippled man and his frustrated wife,and the film changes into anincredibly tense mixture of romance and thrills.
KenFollett, who wrote the novel that this film is based, has done a greatjob of taking a world that is huge and bringing it down to just thesetwo characters. Billy is the perfect example of a manwho has lost a portion of his life, yet is too depressed to see thehappiness in front of him. This spy was doing anything but spying. This unaffected thriller is made with humble potency. Here is a man with the greatest secret of the war, a German patriot, who lets a small woman stop him. Sutherland is a bit odd, with most of all a bizarre accent that almost seemsto change from scene to scene.