- Movie Rating -

Force 10 from Navarone (1978)

| December 8, 1978

Completely by accident, I saw Force 10 from Navarone on the exact same day as The Wild Geese, and while neither is what you might call “an achievement”, at least the former had the advantage of featuring a cast of actors who seemed to actually want to be there, and many in this film seemed sober, which is something I can’t say for the earlier film.  I suppose that’s progress.

For all intents and purpose, Force 10 from Navarone is a sequel to The Guns of Navarone with a switch in the cast.  The roles of Mallory, Miller and Barnsby originally played by Gregory Peck, David Niven and Richard Harris are replaced here by Robert Shaw, Edward Fox and Harrison Ford.  If you had to replace actors, you could do a lot worse, although admittedly there is a noticeable demotion of star power.

There is also less of a sense of purpose.  The original film had the team blowing up two massive Nazi cannons that were blowing up allied ships.  This one takes the less interesting trek of having the team reassembled to take out a double agent who his being sheltered somewhere inside Yugoslavia.  Plus, there is the unnecessary addition of having the team hooked up with an American unit known as Force 10 who are headed in-country for a covert mission of their own.

The singular mission given to the team gets far too complicated for its own good.  There are new characters who weave in and out, there are alliances that get confusing, particularly with the arrive of beauty and the beast – that being Barbara Bach as a rebel soldier Petrović and Richard Kiel as a hulking Yugoslavian named Capt. Dražak.  Added to this is their target Col. von Ingorslebon, played by Franco Nero.  And there’s Carl Weathers as an American soldier under military arrest who escapes and teams up with our heroes. 

In the midst of all this messy getting-to-know-you business is the mission which involves the team having to blow up a bridge.  That doesn’t sound like much, but I can say that it is more exciting here than it was in The Wild Geese.

I can’t say that I wasn’t involved with Force 10 From Navarone – the pacing works – but I must admit that winding through all the characters and motivations and plot developments kind of wore me out.  Compare this with the clarity of purpose offered in the first movie and you can see that this movie, helmed by Bond regular Guy Hamilton, is trying too hard to keep the viewer guessing by constantly twisting the plot.

The biggest problem, though, with Force 10 from Navarone is that by the late 70s it seemed out of date.  The romantic adventures of war in this and in The Wild Geese seemed out of step in the era just after the brutal reality of Vietnam.  In a decade in which sobering reality was washing out grandiose fantasy (in spite of the success of Star Wars), this movie, while enjoyable, seemed somewhat out of step.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1978) View IMDB Filed in: Action