North Sea Hijack ★★★½

North Sea Hijack starts with an opening scene where Roger Moore, adorned in a bobble hat, berates 'ffolkes' Ffusiliers' for their efforts in a training exercise before going on to complain about the fact that they now allow "females" into his favourite club. He also has a cat called Enoch.

"I like cats. I don't like people who don't."

If North Sea Hijack hasn't won you over already, then you're probably the kind of person that applauded when Roger Moore was no longer James Bond. And that makes me sad. Look - :(

On the surface, this is seemingly just a pretty simple action adventure. Anthony Perkins, somehow managing to be even more sinister than he was in Psycho, heads a band of multi-national hijackers as they take command of a couple of North Sea oil platforms and a ship, threatening to blow them up if the British government doesn't cough up £25 million. Moore is asked to help out, and does so mostly by barking instructions while doing some knitting, telling a secretary to fetch him some coffee and demanding that puffy Navy admiral James Mason shares regular swigs of Scotch with him.

"Isn't it early for a drink?
"It's four hours since breakfast! It's LATE!"

For the most part it is very much a by-the-numbers film as well. Yet at the centre of it you have this central character who is not so much slightly offbeat in his methods but bordering on stark raving mad. An admitted misogynist as a result of being on the receiving end of hand-me-downs from five elder sisters, Moore probably seems far more comfortable and is having way more fun than should be allowed in such a role.

But he is a genuine delight here. I don't mean that in some ironic or kitsch way either - I know many don't believe me, or others, when I say that I loved him as Bond and that he was my favourite in the role. In this role he shows many of the reasons why I enjoyed him as much as 007. In some ways, this is an even better performance than any of his Bond film appearances - there are no raised eyebrows here as he gets some superb one-liners. He tones down the irony and campness a couple of notches, in fact, letting the daft plot do that work for him.

He completely embraces this absolute oddball of a character and turns a run-of-the-mill action film into something altogether more enjoyable and amusing. It's all topped off by an absolutely potty and hilarious ending that is preceded by a shower scene that superbly makes a point of NOT tipping its hat to his exploits with the fairer sex in his more famous role.

It does make it seem strangely uneven in places - on the hand you have Moore arseing around with cats and harrumphing at anyone in a skirt, and then you have Perkins, while hamming it up rather, proving to not be in the mood for fun and games one iota. It ends up not mattering one bit, though, because it's all so entertaining that you don't actually notice.

The support cast sees David Hedison pop up as little more than a Felix Leiter port-over but Mason is good value as expected. The bemused expression he perpetually wears when sharing scenes with Moore is either a lovely bit of acting, which of course the great Mason was more than capable of, or genuine bewilderment on his part at what on earth he has let himself in for. The lovely Lea Brodie (now a holistic healer, no less!) is a Bond girl, let's be honest, and actually one of the stronger ones as well.

If you like cats, woolly hats, straight whiskey, fashionable scarves and splendidly unkempt facial hair, then North Sea Hijack could be the best film you ever see. If not, I won't tell Sir Roger, don't worry. He is handy with that harpoon gun after all.....

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