Was there anyone out there clamouring for a sequel to the David Niven and Gregory Peck led The Guns of Navarone? I ask this mainly because its sequel, Force 10 From Navarone, released almost twenty years after the original, and featured no cast members of the original. The Guns of Navarone hits the spot when it comes to formidable action-adventure films, and eager as I was to dive into this Guy Hamilton helmed sequel, it’s a real headscratcher to think about who this film was really for. Too late to re-cast Niven and Peck, and too late to recapture the hype surrounding the greatness and camaraderie of the first, the cards were most definitely stacked against Force 10 From Navarone.
Even with these formidable odds, Force 10 From Navarone wastes no time at all in making a splash of excitement and thrilling, opportunistic direction from Guy Hamilton. His work with the James Bond franchise comes into great use here, with Hamilton’s directing style not only recognisable for those that have seen the likes of Goldfinger, but we see a more meritable side to his camera work, cinematography and competence as a film director. Some gorgeous scenery, nicely framed medium to long shots, Hamilton presents us with a slew of exceptionally technical scenes, most of which are undermined significantly by the script he looks to adapt. Perhaps the lack of scriptwriter Carl Foreman, who penned the original script alongside the returning Alistair MacLean is the breaking point. Scenes that don’t particularly feel all that lively or rehearsed, a tad slapdash in the earlier moments, with one-scene performances that chew all the scenery.
Harrison Ford and Robert Shaw lead our star-studded cast, one that takes some warming to, but for the most part, is relatively engaging. Ford and Shaw hold a predictable relationship, one well-suited for the plucky nature of the film, mired by the occasional supporting performance. The time they spend together is enjoyable, running amok in the Yugoslavian countryside, German bases and small, Chetnik occupied villages. A resoundingly good supporting cast fill in the various ranks at hand, with Franco Nero, Carl Weathers, Richard Keil and Edward Fox all featuring in great capacity. Their performances collectively make for good pieces that showcase the strengths they had as performers outside of their more mainstream efforts. Keil, in particular, makes for a consistently great minor antagonist for much of the movie, whilst Nero turns in a performance that pools together a surprising maturity, something which lacks in Fox and Weathers’ roles.
Packed to the brim with special features, documentaries, interviews, revisions from essayists and a great number of different edits of the film, alongside some documentaries on the making of the film and tribute to cinematographer Christopher Challis, there’s more than your money’s worth for fans of the film, or those looking for a comfortable action flick. With such a bountiful number of supplements at hand, it’s hard not to be impressed by the vast range on offer, most make for engaging or interesting watches. The touch up from Indicator is genuinely marvellous, the film looks superb, and I’d fully recommend viewing the lengthiest version out of the three on offer, it packs a punch and warrants the running time through some very well-paced moments.
I’m blown away, more than anything, that a sequel to a film that released seventeen years before this adaptation can be so good. It has all the elements of a bad sequel, replacing cast members, sloppy dialogue and the disdain and disregard of the man who assembled the source material in the first place. Salvaged entirely by the tireless efforts of Hamilton, Challis, Shaw and Ford, Force 10 From Navarone becomes genuinely fun. It isn’t without its issues but it is a lovely bit of light action-adventure, set deep within the confines of the Second World War.