Deadline (1988) starring John Hurt, Imogen Stubbs, Robert McBain, Greg Hicks directed by Richard Stroud Movie Review

Deadline (1988)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Imogen Stubbs and John Hurt in Deadline (1988)

Middle East Powder Keg

In Hawa, a small emirate of the Persian Gulf, resides veteran reporter Granville Jones (John Hurt) who having experienced just about everything including the loss of a loved one has become cynical and world weary. It is certainly how he comes across when he is asked for his opinion of what is going on in Hawa as the Emir's son has staged a coup whilst being advised by a political renegade. Whilst things unfold in the present Granville Jones reminisces to what happened to him all those years earlier when he met and fell for Lady Romy Burton (Imogen Stubbs) whilst becoming close friends with the Emir (Roshan Seth).

With its story about a political coup "Deadline" is heavy yet at the same time it isn't all heavy because of the flashback story of Granville's earlier days in Hawa with the focus on his friendship with the Emir and his relationship to Romy Burton. But this is where I now have an issue as "Deadline" with its dual stories slowly grows, inter connects, reveals itself till we finally become aware of the depth and I can't bring myself to reveal too much as part of the joy in "Deadline" is the discovery. But for example there is a scene during the first half, a flashback scene where the Emir asks Granville's advice over whether his young son would be best heading to England to get an education, making Granville almost an accomplice in the boy's destiny.

There is also a side to "Deadline" which seems ahead of its time as we have the son staging a coup but under the guidance of a political renegade and as we learn a Muslim one. Again I won't go in to the details of this side of the movie because it is fascinating as the story unfolds. But it is almost as if writer Tom Stacey has a crystal ball back in the 80s to write a story which now seems more current than it probably did.

What is clear is that whilst "Deadline" has good performances from everyone with Roshan Seth standing out as the Emir this movie is owned by John Hurt. It is Hurt who brings layer upon layer of character depth to the movie from moments of rage to the most perfectly timed pauses that you almost believe that Hurt has spend decades living in the Middle East and has become a world weary reporter.

What this all boils down to is that "Deadline" is the sort of political drama I normally don't enjoy but this one is so nicely worked with a dual storyline which builds that it becomes fascinating. It is a movie which with out John Hurt would have failed as it is his skills as an actor to convince us that he is a world weary reporter which makes it so engaging.