Top critical review
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Dated but still exciting in places
on 19 July 2009
Eastwood directs and stars in this unsubtle but still interesting mid 70's thriller. He is a retired assassin for a government agency, who is persuaded out of his art loving retirement for one last job. He, apparently, is also a retired rock climber, and therefore the only man for the job since his mark is one of a group of climbers about to climb the Eiger... but which climber is it..? We don't know. Well, in truth the whodunit is fairly easy to see early on, and the first hour is pretty mediocre 70's fayre.. It's once the climbing starts the tension starts racking up, thanks to Clint's insistence on both acting and directing on location and doing the stunts for real. Sadly, this was to lead to the death of one of the stuntmen climbers, who ironically had previously successfully climbed the Eiger.
Nobody really seems to be taking this seriously, least of all Clint as either actor or director, as the `plot' develops with many a 70's cliché.. girls with afros jumping into bed at the drop of a hat, random nudity, horribly stereotyped camp gay bad guy (who actually names his dog `faggot' in case you don't get the `subtle' clues) and George Kennedy, just to name a few. Eastwood forgets the slack first half once we get to the Eiger in the final section of the movie, and it's the tense climbing scenes rather than any intrigue or 70's styling you will probably remember after the lights come up. Also worth a note is a John Williams score which more than passes muster in setting the scene for that real 70's thriller feel...
Truthfully, Eastwood's indefatigable screen charisma makes this a 4 star movie, despite trying to convincingly play a `womanising-art-lecturer-retired-assassin-rock-climber `, which isn't a part one imagines one is asked to do very often.. However the very poor transfer - which is so bad in places you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a pirated copy - knocks a star off. It's in widescreen at least, but non anamorphic (meaning it's not designed for modern widescreen TV's and will appear as a letterbox in the middle of the screen, requiring some zooming in to fill out your screen), frequently washed out colours despite the gorgeous locales, and full of other imperfections. Watch the movie, the end is worth it - just try and find the remastered version which is out there somewhere..