Wednesday, 29 January 2014

That's Rogertainment! Rogisode 1:
North Sea Hijack

Our first voyage into the choppy waters of Roger Moore's non-Bond career sees us sploshing about in the North Sea for a film which is variously called ffolkes (silly), Assault Force (generic) or North Sea Hijack (literal) depending on where in the world you watch it. Its German title - Sprengkommando Atlantik - emerges from Google Translate as Busting Commando Atlantic, which is both thrillingly mad and geographically insane.

Whatever it's called (let's say North Sea Hijack for the sake of accuracy), the film is based on a book called Esther, Ruth and Jennifer, the title of which makes sense in context but is no good for a film which features exploding oil rigs and a cat-loving James Bond in a tramp's beard and Where's Wally hat.

'ffolkes', incidentally, is Rodge's character's surname, and although a basic grasp of onomatology will tell you it's spelled with two small 'f's, the film is a bit confused about this, crediting him as "Ffolkes" in the end crawl. ffolkes' christian names are so spectacular that I am going to have to drip feed them slowly throughout this review, in order that the internet doesn't explode from the sheer force of their incrediblitude.

North Sea Hijack is, in today's wanky poster-quote terminology, Die Hard meets Captain Phillips, but nowhere near as good as such a mash-up suggests. Pleasingly, there's actually a minor character called Captain Phillips, and at one point a bad guy says "I'm the temporary captain of this tub!", which Cap'n Phil's chief pirate no doubt meant to say but got the quote wrong.

The plot is kickstarted by a group of terrorists, headed by Norman Bates in a fisherman's rib jumper, who hijack a Norwegian oil production platform's supply ship and make hilariously ambitious demands for a ransom of 25 million quid otherwise they'll blow up both the platform, which is called Jennifer, and its drilling rig, named Ruth. The ship they've hijacked is called Esther. All of this gets very confusing. Calling them "Big Oil Rig", "Little Oil Rig" and "Boat" would have made everything simpler.

"Destroy Esther!" "Sir, we're on Esther." "Balls. Destroy Barbara!"
"Who's Barbara?" "JUST BLOW SOMETHING UP FOR FUCK'S SAKE"

Fortunately for world peace, ffolkes exists. He's basically an underwater Jack Bauer, a specialist in counter-terrorism on the high seas, except unlike Jack Bauer he lives in a castle, loves cats, despises women and enjoys cross-stitching. I'm not making this shit up. He's also got a personal team of stealth frogmen so good at infiltration they've got "FFOLKES FFUSILIERS" [sic] plastered across their wetsuits in bright yellow text and they still don't get caught. Conveniently, ffolkes is asked to come up with a plan to foil a terrorist attack on an oil production platform just months before Norman Bates actually carries his out, and he hones this plan by erecting a giant climbing frame in his garden and watching his assault force climb over it while he furiously masturbates into a bucket. Not really, he just shouts at them and chugs whiskey.

His first name is Rufus.

It's not much of a spoiler to say that ffolkes saves the day, the oil rig and its crew of hilarious Swedish-chef-from-The-Muppets impersonators (I think they're supposed to be Norwegian) through a combination of guile, shouting and ruthless embroidery. Everyone lives happily ever after, including Admiral James Mason and Oil Rig Boss Man Felix Leiter. In the film's final (and best) scene, the Prime Minister - A WOMAN - pops round to ffolkes' castle (in Roger Moore's own car, complete with personalised number plate) to deliver a box of kittens by way of thanks. Whether ffolkes will broil or sauté them remains unexplored.

In order to distance Rodge from his most famous role (North Sea Hijack was released the same year as Moonraker), a futile attempt was made to make him something of a cunt. So, for that reason alone, he's a short-tempered grumpychops and a staggering cartoon misogynist, neither of which has any bearing on the plot. It's fun to see Rodge trying to be a twat, but his own aura of irrepressible charm is so thick that his inner bastard has no chance of breaking through. He's also largely absent from the first half hour while the world's dullest hijack gets underway, and nobody's given Anthony Perkins or James Mason anything interesting to do in the meantime, so all that's left is to marvel at the magnificence of ffolkes' monikers.

His middle name is Excalibur.

Daft in all the ways that most British action films of the 1970s were (ffolkes' grand plan for killing the villain involves an undignified amount of James Mason bending over), North Sea Hijack is really only one for Rogerphiles. But given that everyone in the world should be a Rogerphile, that's a pretty broad appeal. It's a transparent attempt by Moore to stretch himself, but it does feel a bit like somebody, tasked with coming up with the least James Bondy personality traits possible, panicked and yelled "SEWING AND KITTENS!" and before they knew it Rodge was stitching and stroking like a mad old lady. One can only imagine the on-set gags he must have made about pricks and pussies.

Rogerating:

"WALL TO WALL ACTION" - Watch-Wearers' Weekly magazine

Massive Rogery thanks to Luke Whiston and Becky Harvey for the DVD. The point of all this, such as it is, is explained here.

No comments :

Post a Comment