29 November 2005 | barnabyrudge
Incredibly dull and muddled racial melodrama. What a waste of talent!
With a cast that includes the likes of Richard Harris, Richard Roundtree, Ray Milland, Joan Collins and Denholm Elliott, you would expect A Game For Vultures to be a pretty bankable success. Would all those talented stars sign up if the script was a load of old rubbish? Surely not. Add to that the plot, which concerns itself with sanctions-busting and freedom-fighting in 1970s Rhodesia, and you'd expect a film with a level of gritty realism and political topicality. It is sad to report, then, that A Game For Vultures is an absolutely disastrous film which misfires in every conceivable department.
In 1970s Rhodesia, black freedom-fighters - dubbed "terrorists" by the white leaders - are busily ambushing the white soldiers on patrol. One such man, Gideon Marunga (Richard Roundtree), is nearly killed when a routine ambush goes wrong and results in several deaths and casualties on both sides. Meanwhile, back in Britain, sanctions-buster David Swansey (Richard Harris) is hired to smuggle some helicopters into Rhodesia to aid the white government in their fight against the black revolutionaries. A Rhodesian by birth, Swansey is determined to support the whites as they struggle to retain control in Rhodesia, even though the rest of the world has imposed crippling sanctions on his nation. Also cast into the mix is unscrupulous business tycoon Colonel Brettle (Ray Milland), who finances Swansey's plans, and crusading journalist Larry Prescott (Sven Bertil Taube), who desperately wants to expose Swansey's illegal activities in the press.
A Game For Vultures is rather confused and heavy-handed. It gets far too plot-heavy for its own good and the result, in all honesty, is a deadly bore. Ironically, the opening fifteen minutes are actually quite good (it's an extended action sequence featuring an ambush which goes bloodily awry), but as soon as the sequence is over the film begins to nose-dive. Richard Harris here contends with probably the weakest role of his career (it's NOT his worst film, but certainly his most bored and subdued performance ever), while supporting stalwarts like Ray Milland, Sven Bertil Taube and Denholm Elliott are wasted too. Even Joan Collins - included primarily just for sex appeal in a male-dominated story - fails to add any sparkle to the proceedings. James Fargo directs rather lethargically, making the plot unbearably hard-to-follow on the one hand while over-simplifying the racial themes on the other. I won't be watching A Game For Vultures again and, if you value your time, I'd suggest that you shouldn't even bother with it in the first place!