Taking a respite from the British Secret Service, Roger Moore commands his own counter-terrorist operatives. Sporting a beard, a fondness for felines, and extremely lacking in tact, Moore isn’t 007 but an eccentric, unorthodox man-of-action in a tongue-in-cheek Bondian thriller. Moore is Rufus Excalibur ffolkes, an adaptation of Jack Davies’ Esther, Ruth, and Jennifer. Veteran director Andrew V. McLaglen, who recently worked with Moore on another action thriller, The Wild Geese (1978), is at the helm.
As the film opens ffolkes is putting his men through their paces on a training exercise. He runs them through a gauntlet insisting upon clockwork precision. He’s tough on his men but has a soft spot for cats as quite a number of them dwell in the castle where ffolkes and his fusiliers reside.
In Norway, the supply ship Esther takes on a team of reporters. Upon heading out to sea, the newsmen turn out to be terrorists. As the madman Kramer, Anthony Perkins leads the subversives. He demands a virtual king’s ransom; and if his demands are not met, Esther, the refinery Ruth, and the drilling platform named Jennifer will wind up making an unplanned voyage to the bottom of the North Sea. Kramer issues his demands to Robert King (former small screen submariner David Hedison), operations manager of Jennifer. Needless to say, King isn’t keen on finding that he might be seeing Davy Jones’s locker.
The demands are forwarded to 10 Downing Street where the prime minister refuses to pay the ransom, as the British government is the prime shareholder in the petrol operation. British officials get a look at ffolkes’ men in action and it’s suggested he might be the ideal man for the job. Admiral Brinsden (a wonderfully cast James Mason) meets the colorful ffolkes and despite finding him to be a bit of an odd man, believes he might just have what it takes to save the day.
Director McLaglen delightfully skewers 1970s disaster thrillers balancing camp and suspense. Perkins doesn’t get to do much but appear menacing which has served him well over the years; one might guess that Bruce Dern was elsewhere when the film needed a madman. The presence of Moore, Hedison, and George Baker might give the impression of the Bond films as the premise seems reminiscent of the early 007 adventures when Connery essayed the role of the Ian Fleming created spy. Moore’s performance at times seems more like a parody of Connery’s efforts than his own.
Having appeared with Richard Burton and Richard Harris in McLaglen’s The Wild Geese, Moore working with acting notable Mason makes for some solid company he has been fortunate to appear with as of late. Some might dismiss ffolkes as a Bondian efforts that falls short. Despite a score that is so unimpressive it almost sounds like a rejected score for a telefilm, that doesn’t detract from an otherwise enjoyable time killer. While no one does things better than Bond, ffolkes is worth a look.