This pallid miniseries, based on a novel by Wilbur Smith, trots out all the story cliches and stereotype characters of the international thriller genre. Roy Scheider, in a wooden, indifferent performance as a former Army anti-terrorist task force leader in search of an international terrorist, adds little to this formulaic piece.
Story opens with the hijacking of a plane full of Nobel Prize winners by wild-eyed Middle East terrorists. Col. Peter Stride (Scheider) is sent to the rescue but disobeys orders by brilliantly overpowering the hijackers and saving the passengers. Of course, he is court-martialed for his heroism and drummed out of the service.
Fortunately, an even greater mission awaits Stride. He is enlisted by a wealthy but beautiful widow, Baroness Magda Altman (Patricia Millardet), to take revenge on the shadowy terrorist leader Caliph, who was responsible for her husband’s brutal murder.
Stride promptly falls in love with the Baroness, but their lovefest is cut short when his daughter Melissa (Kelly Marcel) is kidnapped.
Stride’s former Army commander, Kingston Parker (Sam Wanamaker) puts the task force resources at his disposal and, in another daring rescue, Stride snatches his daughter from the jaws of the terrorists.
As the story zigs and zags from location to location and from one formulaic plot point to the next, Stride and Magda grow suspicious of one another, and tension mounts for a predictable climax.
Needless to say, the outcome is never in doubt from the first frame of this by-the-numbers piece. In addition to a soppy, convoluted plot, the script is full of weak dialogue and flat characterization.
Acting is weak, with Scheider only occasionally struggling to find some less superficial level in his portrayal. Wanamaker, also a fine actor, is stiff and wooden. The attractive Millardet has little to offer here, and seems as lost as the other actors with Tony Wharmby’s lackluster direction and James Carrington’s adaptation of the book.
This miniseries, which consumes a baffling four hours, is essentially about nothing. It has virtually no point to make either about the larger themes of international terrorism or about the characters themselves. The result is a dull , empty exercise in TV drama.