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Mercenaries for a London banker parachute into Africa to put a useful president back in power.
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Mixing action, humor, sentiment, and even a few righteous moral convictions, The Wild Geese is good, rousing fun. Released theatrically in 1978 (oddly, this 2005 DVD release is referred to as the "30th Anniversary Edition"), director Andrew V. McLaglen’s film depicts the adventures of a group of British mercenaries hired by a shady multinational corporation to free the benevolent leader of an African nation held captive by a ruthless dictator. Led by the caustic, no-nonsense Col. Allen Faulkner (Richard Burton), these soldiers of fortune are all stout fellows out to earn a big payday and restore a good man to his rightful place of power (the underlying message of universal racial brotherhood is effective, if somewhat simplistic), and they do their job swiftly and efficiently... at least until they're double-crossed by their venal, perfidious employers, at which point the film becomes a tale of survival and revenge. The cast, which also includes Richard Harris, Roger Moore, and a host of other fine veteran actors, is first-rate, the story-telling efficient, the dialogue entertaining (with occasional bursts of profanity), and the action reasonably exciting and not overly graphic. And even if the pace is somewhat leisurely by new millennium standards (we're nearly an hour into it before the actual mission starts), The Wild Geese is a very enjoyable ride. Bonus features include a profile of producer Euan Lloyd and commentary by Lloyd, Moore, and journalist Jonathan Sothcott. --Sam Graham
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