Sunday, November 22, 2015

ffolkes

1980's ffolkes, aka NORTH SEA HIJACK, is the sort of old fashioned adventure that just isn't seen anymore.  Pity.  We could use some.  These days (and for quite some time now) hijack pictures get bogged down with advanced technology and tiresome political rants from the villains, to say nothing of computer generated action scenes that are guaranteed to remove the viewer from any immediacy in the plot.

ffolkes proudly has none of that.  The hijack of a Norwegian supply ship bound for expensive North Sea oil rigs is engineered by a group of men posing as reporters, led by Kramer (Anthony Perkins), who have no agenda other than getting rich.  Many viewers have stated that the later DIE HARD takes several cues from this film.  One of those might be that the ultimate goal of its hijackers in the 1988 actioner  - who put up a ruse with long winded demands for asylum for their compadres - is the same. 

What is not the same is ffolkes' scarcity of large scale action scenes.  There are no real scuffles in the movie until near the end, in fact, when counter terrorist Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (Roger Moore) scales the ship with his commando team to foil the plans of the bad guys.  It hardly matters, as the film is so entertaining and involving that interruptions for periodic fisticuffs or shootouts would've seemed a real intrusion to the quiet engagement the film creates.

Mr. ffolkes is a precise, eccentric, and supremely arrogant fellow who subjects his men to endless drills and dry insults.  When Admiral Brinson (James Mason) asks if he is the sort who finishes the London Times crossword in ten minutes, his quarry is insulted, curtly replying it has never taken him ten minutes.    ffolkes can afford to be abrupt - his steel trap mind constantly strategizes methods to thwart both evil plots and inept, if well meaning, efforts to quell them.   He drinks heavily, fancies cats and detests females, all of which provide mileage for Moore's highly amusing performance, one of his finest.  His explanation for his misogyny is wryly funny.  How his fellow cast reacts to his brazen demeanor only adds to the fun.   He's clearly enjoying the change of pace from his usual suave, womanizing characters such as Simon Templar and James Bond.   It's safe to say that ffolkes is a better film than most of Moore's outings as 007, and apparently the actor agreed.

ffolkes is a perfect matinee for those seeking comfortable escapism that does not require acute wits or a strong stomach on the part of its audience for enjoyment.  Michael J. Lewis' typically majestic late '70s European scoring perfectly compliments the scenario.   It's the sort of film you could've watched with your grandmother without concern for offensive content, though she may have blushed when one of the henchman complained that he was "freezing (his) balls off" while standing guard on a chilly ship's deck.

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