A punchy British action flick from the same people who brought you punchy British action flicks "The Wild Geese" and "The Sea Wolves". SAS Captain Peter Skellern (Lewis Collins) is assigned to infiltrate an anti-nuclear terrorist group, the Revolution for Peace movement of the People's Lobby, as it prepares a spectacular publicity coup by taking top-level US and British dignataries hostage at a dinner in London and threatening to execute them unless a nuclear missile is fired - "in the name of peace" - at the US submarine base at Holy Loch. When negotiations stall and one of the hostages is killed, the SAS are sent in to rescue the others. That is the film in a nutshell. It isn't sophisticated, it isn't subtle, and if you are a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament then you may have a claim to feeling personally slighted. But as a solid action movie, "Who Dares Wins" is excellent - yes, it could very easily be taken as a feature-length episode of "The Professionals", although it would be unfair to say that Collins is merely reprising his Bodie role; Captain Skellern is for starters married (to Rosalind Lloyd) with a child, and while this doesn't stop him from being a complete tart for Queen and Country it does call for a little less smirking glibness than we got with the unattached, carefree Bodie. Skellern has more cares.
It is not action all-the-way, and this is to the film's advantage because, contrary to what some have said, "Who Dares Wins" is not gung-ho. The SAS are portrayed simply as a body of men doing the job they are ordered to do. Indeed, as the SAS Commanding Officer (a crisp Tony Doyle) explains in the early stages of the film: "When we are called to do a job, we have been likened to a surgeon cutting out a cancer. It is a filthy and difficult job. We don't like doing it, but it's our duty." The bulk of the film centres on Skellern's infiltration of the terrorist movement, and his "relationship" with its' leader Frankie Leith (Judy Davis). Those with little patience may thus find themselves fidgeting a bit, but there is ample reward when the action finally does begin, including of course the famous tracking shot with Skellern and SAS comrades charging down the corridor of the US Ambassador's residence. There is also a excellently staged single-shot sequence where a terrorist is standing guard on a balcony, and an SAS man abseils down and shoots him. Then there is the fate that awaits Frankie Leith, as she and Skellern stare down each other's gun barrels....
Along with those already mentioned, the high-grade cast includes Richard Widmark, Edward Woodward, John Duttine, Robert Webber, Patrick "Protect And Survive" Allen and Anna Ford as herself. The title music is ace, and the grimy early Eighties ambience that permeates the film is quite intoxicating. It also boasts a fantastic catfight between Mrs Skellern and a very boo-hiss Ingrid Pitt, as one of two terrorists who have taken Mrs Skellern and her baby daughter hostage. It's more vicious than outside Chicago Rock Cafe in Wolverhampton on a Friday night!
"Who Dares Wins." One of my favourite movies.