The Eiger Sanction (1975) / Action-Adventure
MPAA Rated: R for violence, language and adult situations
Running time: 123 min.
Cast: Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, Vonetta McGee, Jack Cassidy, Thayer David
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Hal Dresner, Warren Murphy, Rod Whitaker (based on his novel, written as Trevanian)
Review published March 7, 2001
Based on the novel by Trevanian (aka Rod Whitaker, who co-wrote the screenplay), Clint (Magnum Force, Joe Kidd) plays art professor and successful mountain climber, Jonathan Hemlock, who comes out of retirement as an assassin for a secret government agency. His mission is to revenge a friend who is killed by killing the two enemies who assassinated him for some plans on constructing germ warfare. He nabs one, but to snuff out the second agent, he must travel to a treacherous mountain known as the Eiger, a mountain he has failed to scale the two previous times he has tried. It seems that based on information he has received, that one of the three men is the man he is to sanction. But will he find out who it is before he gets offed himself, and will the dangers of the mountain take care of both?
The Eiger Sanction, like many of Clint's films, is more entertaining than it is good. It's basically a James Bond film, and like the Roger Moore Bond films during the time this was made, it suffers from stereotypical and one-dimensional characters, in addition to a cheesy script. It would be easy to blame the terrible screenwriting for the weakness of the overall movie, but unfortunately the success or failure of the film rests squarely on Eastwood's shoulders.
Eastwood, the actor, single-handedly makes the film watchable, with his snarling delivery and take-no-crap attitude, he makes the film fun. Eastwood, the director, did a poor job with the rest of the actors, and was lazy in character portrayals, relying on stereotypes instead of developing characters, and delivers a film that was a half hour longer than it needed to be.
The Eiger Sanction is fine for a couple of mindless hours of entertainment, but really should have been much better given the talent involved.
©2001 Vince Leo