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The Internecine Project
cast: James Coburn, Lee Grant, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry, and Michael Jayston

director: Ken Hughes

89 minutes (15) 1974 widescreen ratio 16:9
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Accepted wisdom is it should be good to be bad. Everyone remembers Darth Vader, for example, and if it came down to it, which would you rather be, Butch and Sundance or the lawmen chasing them?

It's a shame then that this little tale of villainy should be so leaden. Coburn stars as Robert Elliot, a former secret agent whose political career is now solidly tied to a major US oil company. When the Vice President of the company informs him that he's in line for a top post, provided his past doesn't come out, Elliot hatches an elaborate plan. There are four people who know about his past indiscretions and in one night, Elliot manipulates them all into killing one another.

As a basic idea this is fantastic, and Coburn clearly relishes the part. He's intelligent, plausible and completely ruthless, lying and cheating his way to the top of the pile in a role that is equal parts Faustus and Macbeth. He's well supported too, with Derrick O'Connor and Harry Andrews both impressive as the scientist and woman-hating psychopath on his hit list.

However, none of them can raise the film above the leaden pacing that the first half suffers under. You learn most of what you need to know about Elliot in the first ten minutes and the half hour that follows does little more than see him set the game pieces in place. You know what's going to happen, Elliot knows what's going to happen but it still takes half the film to actually go anywhere.

Whilst the performances are impressive and the central idea is great, the slow pace and dated photography hurt the film badly. Interesting as a curiosity, but unless you're a fan of 1970s' conspiracy thrillers, this is one to miss.

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