Director: James Hawes | 85 minutes | thriller, crime | Actors: Rupert Penry-Jones, Lydia Leonard, David Haig, Patrick Malahide, Patrick Kennedy, Eddie Marsan, Alex Jennings, Steven Elder, Werner Daehn, Peter Stark, Del Synnott, Roger De Courcey, David Gallacher, James Bryce, Stewart Preston
Puke and vomit … to be honest, we can’t think of anything else in this noncommittal interpretation of John Buchan’s eponymous adventure and spy novel. Why that hard conclusion? Knowing that one Alfred Hitchcock had this manuscript already scanned by his superior brain in 1935, a pressing parliamentary question arises: why?
This version is already the fourth in film history and to immediately link it to a conclusion: reasonably inferior to the espionage snack of the Master of Suspense, which was not the strongest print in the Brit’s script. Even more grumbling at the hurtful fact that even a quality channel such as the BBC allows itself to be sucked into the reprehensible maelstrom of recycling. Recycling is good for the environment, but not for the ingenuity as a symbol of film heritage. This polished copy of “The 39 Steps” will therefore merge into the anonymous eternity and we can therefore consider this a funny thing.
However, we console ourselves with the conviction that this is yet another old-fashioned thriller in which someone’s ears are not sawed through every two minutes or blood vessels split open without being asked. Nostalgic, which should provide a calm frame of mind, but unfortunately also creates the effect of a sleeping pill on an old warrior from the trenches. Rupert Penry Jones, known from the series “Spooks”, wants to portray the fugitive Richard Hannay as the ashtrays of a sophisticated gentleman and a cool James Bond but gets stuck like a stiff rake on wool slippers. The interaction with sunflower Lydia Leonard also does not provide much-needed relief from compelling and imaginative prints. The way in which Hannay traces a network of German spies and especially the way in which attackers are shaken off are underpinned in a shady way. Even for those who are not familiar with the story and do not know the other film versions, the plot turns out just as conditioned as Pavlov’s dog. Our spy hunter is chased in a Scottish meadow by a pack of agents and dogs that disappear as suddenly as they came, the plane that just fell from the sky and apparently dissolves in the Bermuda Triangle? A picture for a drizzly Sunday afternoon … on the condition that there is really nothing, absolutely nothing on TV.
For those who can’t get enough of it… in 2011 there will be another rendition. Poor Alfred.