20 September 2017 | moonspinner55
Intriguing plot is carefully yet slowly unwound...
James Coburn (gaunt, and with a thick mustache) plays an American diplomat and future adviser to the US President who needs his former life as a secret agent permanently scrubbed; unfortunately, he has four acquaintances in London (a civil servant, a prostitute, a thuggish masseur and a scientist doing research on a device that kills with a high-frequency sound) who know too much about his past. He orchestrates a plan to have the four unwittingly eliminate each other, though a sideline romance with former-flame and uptight writer Lee Grant might be his undoing. Very clever thriller from screenwriters Barry Levinson (who also produced) and Jonathan Lynn, adapting Mort W. Elkind's book "Internecine", though it does take a while to get this plot into motion (and involves a great deal of telephone ringing). Director Ken Hughes is attracted to intricate details and technicalities, but a snappy pace doesn't seem to be his thing. At least one of the killings (with the victim in the shower) is especially ungainly, however the film isn't terribly violent or bloody--Hughes and his writers are more interested in plot development than circumstance. Good performances all around, including Grant as the lover. Grant matches up well with Coburn, and she has a funny, natural reaction when he tells her she should be working on something more her speed--a cookbook. **1/2 from ****