I Saw A Film!

Bronson, lean and mean, has to tangle with his old gang, lead by James Mason (hamming a southern accent) in the rocky south of France where he’s been retired and leading a quiet life on the sea. The old gang are ticked off about having had to do time and possible betrayal. It’s hard to remember the exact offense he’s accused of, but it’s clear Mason intends to take his revenge out on Bronson’s new family. So, Bronson fights fire with fire and while out, presumably getting his hands on loot the gang wants, instead, grabs James Mason’s hippy daughter (Jill Ireland, the real life wife) and deposits her in a safe remote location. Bronson comes back and tries to work a trade off, but there are several issues with the thinking, everyone allows too much freedom of action, but then criminals might not be the most savvy planners. I mean, just because you’re good at one thing doesn’t mean you’re good at everything. The rest of this movie is basically tearing around hazardous mountain roads at high speed, at first because we’re taking the hippy daughter up there, then, to get James Mason up there, and then to get a doctor because the gang’s machine-gunner accidentally shoots Mason in a scuffle with Bronson . . .

When the film gets down to the wire it’s a tense stand off between the last surviving gangster and Bronson and family on a boat. It’s Bastille Day and so lots of fireworks cover the necessary last bits of action. In the end everyone seems to have worked up an appetite and the writers can think of nothing better for them to say but “I’m hungry.”

Bronson was the most popular action star of the era in Europe and would soon eclipse everyone in the states with his Death Wish performance (peaking in his 50s-60s), but this particular thriller loses something in the granite outcroppings of the countryside. The back and forth between the old gang and Bronson isn’t particularly interesting. And it turns out I’ve seen this movie before (I remember Jill and the guitar) but I couldn’t remember any of the action. It’ll have that effect, it’s just not that memorable a film. They kind of rob us of a James Mason vs. Bronson tet a tet and wind up having a second rate thug carry the rest of the film. We don’t really care about him. He’s nowhere near as interesting as Mason and doesn’t seem to actually have any stake in the outcome of the revenge, plus we know Bronson will beat him-he’s just a jobber. That’s how movies work.

This is running free on USA PRIME and probably only worth it if you’re a Bronson completist.

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