Michael Caine has been in some stinkers over the years, but it says something that it was during the making of this movie he decided to temporarily retire from acting, the experience was so awful. And although he betrays little of that on screen, he is one of the few aspects of this movie which isn't singularly awful. From an early scene when Caine throws away a potential letter bomb and it is carried away by a dog to explode offscreen before the soot blackened dog comes running back round the corner, you know you are far beyond the realms of awfulness that can be redeemed by nostalgia alone. Jason Connery is really disturbingly wooden, and his girlfriend is beyond awful, delivering her cringeworthy lines of expositionary dialogue with no aplomb whatsoever. Caine himself has to convincingly deliver bluntly inserted lines such as "Everybody knows that the Hermitage has the most valuable art collection in the world"..mmhhh.. subtle hint at a plot point, perhaps?
The plot, if indeed you really care, concerns the twin threads of tracking some stolen plutonium, and Nicolai (Connery)'s girlfriend getting into some trouble she needs rescuing from. Multiple characters from the previous movie, Bullet To Beijing  [DVD
], are shoehorned in, plus several new characters, with the overall suspicion is that there are just too many characters and too many story threads for it all to hang together coherently.. and lo and behold, suspicions are confirmed. It's a mess - a story which instead of unfolding mysteries, unravels plot holes. Rick Wakeman's synthy music intermittently drones on in the background, but not enough to drown out the dialogue.
The lure of a budget DVD with Caine, Gambon, Harry Palmer and St. Petersburg locations might lure you in like it did me - I'm here to warn you.. don't let it.