Uncovering Curiosities: Caspar Wrede’s RANSOM
Few actors have turned their backs on stardom like Sean Connery. The James Bond movies launched Connery into a level of global success few had experienced until that time. He loathed the attention and he tried to distance himself from James Bond as much as possible by taking on roles in a wide variety of films. This meant that throughout the 1970s Connery starred in some very odd and occasionally obscure films. 1974’s Ransom (also known as The Terrorists in the US and some other countries) is one of these curios. It may not be the most unconventional of these films, but it’s unlikely that many have heard of it.
The film stars Connery as Nils Tahlvik, the head of security of ‘Scandinavia’ who must negotiate the release of hostages following a plane hijacking by a group of English terrorists (led by Ian McShane). Parallel to the hijacking, another group of terrorists (headed by John Quentin), have kidnapped the British ambassador. Connery’s Tahlvik attempts to resolve the issue without bending to meet the terrorist demands without starting a major international incident.
Director Caspar Wrede film is very much a film of its time. It clearly uses the bombings in England throughout the ’70s as a way of making things current, but the film is clearly a work of fiction. The film has deep roots in the belief that the government (especially the UK government cannot be trusted) and this adds a certain amount of colour to things (remember when movies had the courage to rage against the machine?). Ransom may follow traditional thriller beats buts there’s a lot to this which is very unconventional. Connery doesn’t get involved in the action until the end, so those expecting a 007 adventure will be disappointed. He gives a performance which is low key, but true star power can never be covered and he commands the screen with his presence. He’s Sean Connery, the ultimate alpha male.
Ransom may not be an edge of your seat thriller in the modern sense, but it has enough tense moments and well constructed scenes. Connery impresses as the gruff military man caught between his sense of duty and the political maneuverings of his superiors. Wrede uses the Norwegian locations to good effect, offering up unique visuals which help differentiate it from similar films. This 1970s thriller may not be the best film in Sean Connery‘s filmography but it features some unique elements which make it stand out.