by Tony Medley
Running Time 105 minutes
There are so many terrible
and mediocre films made today. These are the films that the Academy
Awards honor. The name should be changed to Academy Awards for
So when I sit through a
film and slowly come to the conclusion that I’m seeing something
special, something well made, well-written, well-acted, and
well-directed, I start to get a tingling going up my spine. It generally
comes after around 30-40 minutes and I find that the film which has
started well is getting better. Those tingles started in my spine after
thirty minutes of this exceptional thriller.
Hobbs (Michael Caine) is a
lowly, deferential janitor at London Diamond (Lon Di), which monopolizes
the world trade in diamonds. Laura Quinn (Demi Moore) is a top executive
and the only woman in the bunch of stuffed shirt execs who run London
Diamond, the world’s largest marketer of diamonds. Hobbs tips her off
that she’s about to be dumped. Then he enlists her reluctant support in
his plan to pull a heist against Lon Di. Since he has been a basically
invisible presence for decades, he has knowledge that allows him to plan
what appears to him to be the perfect crime.
Soon Laura comes to the
attention of Detective Finch (Lambert Wilson), who is attracted to
Laura, but also suspects her.
Michael Radford has taken a
terrific script by Edward A. Anderson and directed a masterpiece here.
His minimal use of effective music and the absence of music in some key
scenes heighten the tension à la Hitchcock. This is a movie that takes
its time. As the tension builds, Radford doesn’t rush things, allowing
the story to patiently progress.
Caine and Moore execute
their roles effortlessly. Says Radford, “He’s perfect for this role.
It’s not really a stretch for him to play a 73-year-old Cockney geezer
because that’s what he is!”
As for Moore, she
underplays her low key role as the dubious accomplice, a spinster who
lost her lover to World War II, to perfection. Hobbs recognizes that she
is vulnerable because she is an over-achieving woman in a man’s world
who is about to get dumped. As such she is torn between participating in
what seems a hare-brained scheme with Hobbs which would torpedo her
career, and getting vengeance.
Radford rhapsodizes about
all that was happening in the ‘60s, but he concludes, “The only bad
thing was, it was a terrible period for music, thank God The Beatles
came along!” Bad period for music? Has Radford never heard of folk rock,
Dylan, Baez, The Mommas and The Poppas, Simon & Garfunkel and the myriad
other musical geniuses of that decade? The ‘60s produced probably the
best music of any decade, forget The Beatles.
But Radford’s poor music
judgment or knowledge has nothing to do with the quality of the film he
has produced. The cinematography (Richard Greatrex) and production
design (Sophie Becher) evocatively use the principal location of
Luxembourg to capture the ambience of London, circa 1960.
As with the better heist
films, this one concludes with a “reveal,” something you might not be
expecting. I didn’t think it was that stunning, but I was paying
attention. Regardless, it adds to the fun of the film. The better the
movie, the less that needs to be said. Forgive me, but this film is
close to flawless.