Starring: Michael Caine, Britt Eckland, Ian Hendry
Director: Mike Hodges
Jack Carter (Caine) is a London gangster who, following the sudden and suspicious death of his brother, travels to Newcastle for the funeral and to find out what really happened. But he soon finds that there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.
This film still retains a lot of it’s cool all these years later and Michael Caine really chews up the scenery. He’s a stone faced, cold killer who feels confident enough in his abilities to sleep with his bosses girl and take on two rival gangs in Newcastle in order to find out who killed his brother. The violence in this film must have been rather shocking at the time, and it still retains it’s value, with people being thrown off the roofs of parking garages and all kinds of fun and games. Perhaps a favourite moment is a scene in which Carter is surprised by two thugs whilst he’s in bed with his landlady, and manages to throw them out whilst completely naked, wielding a shot gun.
The film has a very 70’s cool vibe, but in a very British way. It feels distinctive, perhaps more like Dirty Harry than other action films of it’s era. There are a lot of different characters here, and they all feel interesting and unique, none more so than Carter himself, who seems like an inexorable force more than a man. It’s kind of a sexy film, at least I think we’re meant to find Michael Caine sexy, he certainly sleeps with a few different beautiful women, but it also contains the flipside of sleeping with gangsters, that is, that his niece may actually be his daughter and she has been cajoled into appearing in a sex tape.
As Carter murders his way through Newcastle to find answers, there’s a very entertaining darkness to this film. It’s a great story and often funny too, but there’s an inevitability to it: if you live by the sword, you’ll die by the sword. Bleak, violent, and thrilling, with the grey stone and clouded skies of Newcastle, it’s a solid thriller with an iconic star.
See It If: by modern standards, it’s not shockingly violent, so those of you who love thrillers and British film fans will enjoy this one.