Wild Geese II (1985)
The fortune of British film producer Euan Lloyds took a turn for the worst after the success of The Wild Geese in 1978. Both his subsequent movies The Sea Wolves and Who Dares Wins were critical failures and subject to diminished box office returns. Therefore Wild Geese II was conceived in hope that a new addition to the franchise would prove financially successful and restore Mr. Lloyd’s reputation as a top British producer. Former Bond director, Peter Hunt, was brought on board to oversee the proceedings, along with original star Richard Burton. The screenplay was again by Reginald Rose and soundtrack composed by Roy Budd.
However the production soon encountered problems, due to Burton's ill health. His role had to be substantially re-written to accommodate his lack of mobility. Thus the concept of the sniper was conceived as a plot device. Burton's death in August 1984 was major impediment but the production was too far forward to be cancelled. So Edward Fox was quickly secured to play the role of Burton's brother, Alex Faulkner. Story has it that the actor took the role to finance an extension to his home. It is also rumoured that the second lead was to be played but Lewis Collins but the role was deemed too similar to that he played in Who Dares Wins. The character then eventually evolved into a vehicle for Scott Glenn.
Upon release Wild Geese II was a box office failure. The story about a plot to rescue Rudolph Hess from Spandau prison was intriguing but poorly executed. The casting of Laurence Olivier as Hess was a bold idea but doesn’t quite work. The action scenes are shot in a very unflattering style and seem very hastily assembled. The contrast between principle photography and second unit direction is quite noticeable, clearly indicating that the film had a troubled production. Yet despite such flaws it is not devoid of any redeeming qualities. Wild Geese II serves as an interesting "snapshot" of the Cold War and a partitioned Berlin. It also features British actor, Derek Thompson, coming to yet another unpleasant cinematic end.
Wild Geese II is a subtly different film from its predecessor. It is more of an espionage thriller than an action film. It really needs to be viewed on its own merit, rather than in a direct comparison to its predecessor. It touches on many aspects of mid-eighties world politics, some of which are still with us, while others have long vanished. Certainly the power of global media corporations is still a relevant topic today. Despite a preposterous premise and a rather stark production design, Wild Geese II is a curious but entertaining film.