North Sea Hijack ★★★½

I know you're probably wondering, "what is it about this film about a cat-loving freelance anti-terrorism strategist that brought it to Tom's attention?"

Well! I am pleased to report that, while this film doesn't lean quite as heavily on cat scenes as one might like, it does have a few great ones, including a closing scene worthy of a place in the all-time cat-movie pantheon. And, thanks to Roger Moore's dedicated performance as a truly odd protagonist and strong villainous performances from Anthony Perkins and Michael Parks, it's also entertaining on many other levels, too!

In addition to loving cats, Moore's character ('ffolkes', with emphasis on the "lower-case double-F") also hates women, which was apparently a somewhat on-the-nose attempt to avoid Bond comparisons (and future typecasting). What could leave a nasty taste in the mouth (and surely does in many contemporary action films without even making it a plot point) is actually driven to hilarious levels here, with ffolkes explaining that his dislike for women stems from a childhood surrounded by cruel sisters and foster sisters (after BOTH his natural parents died during childbirth) and played for strange comic effect after his life is saved by a woman that he immediately nick-names "boy".

The film is also set on the always wonderful, surprisingly under-utilised movie location of an oil rig - why aren't more films set on oil rigs? They're so cool. The only slight disappointment here is that ffolkes is relegated to the background for long stretches as the terrorists set up their plan; while Perkins and Parks do good work, the film lurches up to a higher level whenever ffolkes takes over, and another level still when he's talking about cats. The sense of humour on display here is oddly specific and reminds me more of things like Darkplace and The IT Crowd (basically anything involving Matt Berry, probably at least partly because of the ridiculous accents on display) than anything else from this era.

I almost want to rate this a little higher because when it really clicks it's wonderfully unusual, but this just feels like SUCH a 3.5 star film. With a little more ffolkes in the early stages I'd feel no shame about giving it a higher rating, but it's still really good fun and quite a curious piece of British film history.

Tom liked this review