Don Seigel and Michael Caines underseen film The Black Windmill was Taken before Taken could be a thing. This new release from 101 Films brings us a solid film that brings together great actors in an entertainingly gritty crime thriller.
Major John Tarrant (Michael Caine) takes up the revenge trail when ruthless gunrunners kidnap his young son and demand a king’s ransom in uncut diamonds for the boy’s release. With each new lead, Tarrant’s chilling quest becomes increasingly deadly as he begins to suspect that one of his colleagues is in league with the merciless abductors.
You could be forgiven for not knowing the latest release from 101 Films; in truth, I had not either, but this Michael Caine thriller is one that you need to catch this underrated flick (with so many credits with Caine, there were bound to be a few) sharpish. Based on Clive Egleon’s novel Seven Days to a Killing, The Black Windmill takes us on a surprisingly violent and ominous take on the wronged father thriller.
The Black Windmill takes a strong premise and makes the most of it, thanks to its stellar cast. A film that is grounded in the sense of realism and, in fact, at times strikes a dark, ominous tone throughout as we are never sure if there will, in fact, be a happy ending for this family. Siegel’s action sequences are also strong, if not as standout as his previous work, yet it still grips you, and as Caine continues to threaten violence, you see how lost he has become thanks to his situation and the lack of assistance from those above him.
While it isn’t Don Siegel nor Caine’s best film, there is a lot to enjoy here with Caine and Donald Pleasence, the obvious standouts. There is next to no charm or charisma in Caine’s Tarrant, and that is something that you would want right away. Imagine a Bond that didn’t have the want or the time to deliver sharp one-liners, which is what you get here. His seriousness helps centre the film, and as Tarrant becomes more and more violent as the desperation in bringing his son back increases, you quickly believe him.
London itself almost becomes the star of the film as we are taken to a multitude of real locations that brings that authentic grittiness to the film that others clearly lack. This grounded nature to the film helps it immensely when the plot begins to get away from it. There are moments of bloat throughout the film and especially so in the second half. Yet all of the work put in beforehand allows the audience to forgive it.
The Black Windmill is a film that will be a surprising joy for those who had never heard of it and a welcome return for those who haven’t caught it in a while. This film could have been a little tighter but is still effective in its result.
• Reversible sleeve with alternate artwork
• Interview with actor Joss Ackland
• Interview with cinematographer Ousama Rawi
101 Films have done some excellent work here, with the picture quality being of a high standard with the outdoor scenes around London being a particular highlight and an excellent look for how London looked in the mid-70s. The interviews are solid and provide just enough information to allow the audience to grasp the film’s making. In reality, the star is the transfer.
Available now on Blu-ray via 101 Films.
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