Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Callan: Wet Job (2 Stars)

I'm a big fan of the Callan tv series, as I already stated in this post. Although being well acquainted with the series I had never heard of this film until last week. Needless to say I ordered it straight away. I received it yesterday in the mail... I could hardly wait to watch it... and then?

This film was made in 1981, and in the story's chronology it takes place 10 years after David Callan has retired from Section. Or so he thinks. There's a loose end from one of his previous jobs. Callan will be named as the killer in a book that is being written by a politician. He isn't actually ordered to take the job to cover it up; he's just told that if the book is published he will be sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, but if he uses in his defence that he was working for the government he will be killed.

A good story. And yet the film makes me sad. As an epilogue to Callan's career it's an unworthy end to one of the best English drama series ever. It's amazing how much Edward Woodward has aged in the nine years since the series finished. Some men age less gracefully than others. But that's not the problem. The first thing I noticed was the unpolished acting and cinematography. The whole film seems like a live play, in particular the live television plays that were common in the 1960's. Everything seems unrehearsed. The camera work is so bad that it's embarrassing. In many of the scenes the heads of the people speaking are cut off, we only see them from the shoulders down. The action scenes are laughable. Bang goes the gun, then the camera shows a person with a red spot on his head who unconvincingly falls over. Then there's the dialog, which seems like an amateurish rush job that reduces the concept of the tv series into cliches. The whole film is disgraceful. If you're a Callan fan, give it a miss. If you aren't I beg you not to watch it first, or you'll never want to watch the series.

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