Friday, March 16, 2007

Films of Michael Caine #67: Shadow Run

Cast: Michael Caine (Haskell), James Fox (Landon-Higgins), Matthew Pochin (Joffrey), Rae Baker (Julie), Kenneth Colley (Larcombe), Christopher Cazenove (Melchior), Rupert Frazer (Maunder), Leslie Grantham (Liney), Tim Healy (Daltrey), Emma Reeve (Victoria), Katherine Reeve (Zee), Angela Douglas (Bridget).

Crew: Geoffrey Reeve (director and producer), Desmond Lowden (writer), Adrian Burch and David Whitaker (music), Eddy van der Enden (cinematography), Terry Warwick (editor), Raymond Hughes (production designer).

Synopsis: Chubby schoolboy Edward Joffrey sees masked men trying to rob a van in the countryside. One of the men, Haskell, gives Joffrey cash to keep silent. Haskell meets Landon-Higgins, an upper class civil servant. Landon-Higgins and Haskell plan to steal a high security van containing £110 million of paper used to print English bank notes. Haskell enlists the aid of Larcombe, a terminally ill man who used to drive the paper van. The vehicle has radio controlled security systems, using signals from mobile phone transmitters.

Larcombe discovers restoration work on a cathedral has created a large shadow that no signals can penetrate. Haskell locates an abandoned airfield within the shadow where the van can be taken. His preparations are witnessed by Joffrey. The day before the heist, the shadow suddenly shrinks when scaffolding is removed from the cathedral. Haskell recreates the interference with a crane and help from Joffrey. The heist goes as planned. Afterwards Haskell is shot and fatally wounded by Landon-Higgins, but murders his own killer before dying…


Desmond Lowden’s novel The Shadow Run was first published in 1989. Film rights were acquired by British producer Geoffrey Reeve, who opted to direct the movie himself. Lowden was hired to adapt his book into a screenplay, with Robert Morgan supplying additional material. Reeve cast Caine in the leading role of murderous criminal Haskell. It was the pair’s third collaboration, following on from Half Moon Street and The Whistle Blower (both 1986). Shadow Run also reunited Caine with James Fox and Kenneth Colley, both of whom had appeared in The Whistle Blower.

The production began in April 1997, shooting entirely on location in five English counties. Two months earlier Caine told the Times the project was a labour of love: ‘It’s a small English thriller, very quirky and quite strange. It’s the kind of thing I pick up on and if I’m interested I do it. I play a Cockney again, a real London gangster, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I started to read the script, it intrigued me and I thought, I’ve never seen anything like this before.’

The film disappeared into its own shadow run once shooting was completed. Unable to secure a theatrical release in Britain, the picture made its debut on video in various European territories during 1998. It finally appeared in the UK during September 2001, available only as a budget price DVD, rated 15. Shadow Run has not been released in the US to date. A clip from this film appears in Quicksand (2002).
During publicity interviews for Shiner (2000), Caine frequently said the role of Billy ‘Shiner’ Simpson was only his third appearance as a film gangster, following on from Get Carter (1971) and Mona Lisa (1986). Shadow Run did not even rate a mention.

Reviews: ‘It’s rather like serving crumpets along with a stiff drink. They don’t blend well.’ – Caine is Caine website
‘There isn’t enough scorn in the world to pour on this travesty.’ – Citizen Caine website

Verdict: There’s a good reason why this film took four years to be released in Britain – it sucks. The main culprit is the risible script, made up of two disparate stories. One concerns an £110 million heist, while the other examines the bullying of a fat schoolboy at a rich boarding school. Fusing these narratives together is a series of unbelievable coincidences and ludicrous leaps of logic. The children’s acting is cringe-inducing, while the adults grapple with wooden, trite dialogue. Caine gives one of the most flaccid, lifeless performances of his career in this shockingly bad movie. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

No comments: