The Jigsaw Man  [DVD]
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The Jigsaw Man  [DVD]
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There's other famous names involved in this travesty too - Robert Powell in a performance so wooden you'd need to take care of catching splinters; and Susan George as Caine's drippy daughter. The dialogue is stilted, the cinemaphotography lingers in the static cut between talking heads mode; and the major entertainment is derived from playing spot the false moustache, beard or wig. Oh, and there's a terrifying carpet too.
One can only imagine that the actors needed the money badly to take part in this confusingly plotted mess. One to avoid unless you are a particular fan of movies that are unintentionally funny.
It's almost a shame, because this is one of Caine's very worst performances, lazy and uncommitted to the material and completely oblivious to just how ridiculous he looks and sounds and how much unintentional comedy he provides. An early training montage sees him delicately patting a punchbag in a display of deadly Karate skills or demonstrating his stamina by peddling very slowly on an exercise bike, while he goes through a variety of disguises that wouldn't fool a corpse. But the real highlight is when the moustachioed Caine puts on a Russian accent and speaks in broken English ("Poot yurr hends on der sit pllizz tankyou") that is such an uncanny forerunner of Borat that you cannot believe that Sacha Baron Cohen didn't study the film intently and base his performance on it. All that's missing is the bouffant hair. By contrast even the elderly Olivier, obviously just here to top up the kids' college fund, looks good as he hams his way through lines like "Do I look like anyone's b****y comrade?" or "Don't you see that I love you? I'll see to it that you never see him again! Never, you hear me?"
There's a certain car crash fascination to it all thanks to the atrocious script ("I'm sorry I killed your friend Patrick. War is bad." "That doesn't matter."), pitiful performances (take a special bow Susan George), and direction that would shame East European cable TV (well, the camera is more or less pointed in the right direction) - but unless you have a burning desire to see Charles Gray in the screen's worst bald cap comparing his head to a male member while propositioning a trouserless Robert Powell in his bathroom, you really don't need this in your life. It's not a movie, it's a drinks coaster.
Laurence Olivier, as a retired admiral and "head of ALL (lol) British secret services" has tried to make his part credible by, I think, anachronistically modelling himself on Mansfield Cumming, the original 'C' from the 1920's, complete, in this reprise, with wooden leg, beard, short fuse and a tendency to smash his walking stick on the table (Cumming used the wooden leg itself!). Olivier's admiral lacks only a parrot on his shoulder...
Even if Caine were a better actor, he would have no chance here as Phillip (Phil?) Kimberley, not unalike to, yes you guessed it...Kim Philby! Clever, that transposition, what? Codes, old boy lol!
Susan George gives her usual Wooden Meets Hysterical performance and Robert Powell leaves out the hysteria; in fact, Powell gives a good impression of an android, unable to show credible emotion even in clinching with Susan George.
The plot, such as it is, is not so much thin as not there at all; what there is of it is enough to make one snort with laughter, that someone actually thought this stuff would sell. I hope it never did.
I would have given this film one star were it not for the very good locations and interiors, especially the "Soviet" ones at the beginning, particularly to be commended in view of the fact that, in 1983 or before, this film must have been made outside Russia itself.
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