Moore doesn't give a ffolkes
Roger Moore made his debut as James Bond back in 1973 and in the years in between the 6 Bond movies that he went on to make he starred in several similar action movies which often played to the character of him being a suave, smooth operator. One which was a little different was "North Sea Hijack" or "ffolkes" as it is also known which whilst another action movie which saw Moore leading a group of men on a dangerous mission, it didn't play to that smooth persona. In fact Moore's character feels more akin to James Robertson Justice, short on patience, curmudgeonly and a sexist but it works as does the actual movie. "North Sea Hijack" is not the most amazing action movie you will see, and almost stereotypical of the action movies which Roger Moore found himself cast in but it is enjoyable.
A group of terrorists lead by Lou Kramer (Anthony Perkins - Les Miserables) demand millions of pounds from the British Government or else they will blow up two very expensive oil rigs in the North Sea. Unwilling to pay up the British Government are forced to call upon the services of the eccentric Rufus Excalibur ffolkes (Roger Moore - The Wild Geese) whose personal army are trained to deal with these exact sort of circumstances. But ffolkes's methods are strange, almost as strange of his love of cats and doing needle point but he gets to work not only on getting his men ready but also dealing with Lou Kramer to get him right where he wants him.
In many ways "North Sea Hijack" feels like a predecessor to the "Die Hard" movies because we have terrorists demanding a huge ransom or they will blow up two huge oil rigs and so the British Government are forced to call on the assistance of mercenary Rufus Excalibur ffolkes and his army to stop them. But whilst feeling like a predecessor it also feels like a very stereotypical late 70s action/adventure movie which sees ffolkes and his men try and stop the terrorists using covert ops. It's not that original and whilst it tries to build atmosphere as the clock ticks down on the terrorists demands it is very much a waiting game till eventually ffolkes and his men spring into action to storm the boat which the terrorists are stationed upon.
But whilst not that original "North Sea Hijack" is solid enough with various layers from the crew aboard the ship trying to stop the terrorists through to ffolkes running things for the Government much to the annoyance of Admiral Sir Francis Brindsen. The biggest issue, and it is an issue which blighted many of these late 70s action movies is that whilst the set up is good as is the climax it almost feels like it's treading water in between. It never manages to deliver the edge of your seat tension as the cat n mouse game goes on between ffolkes and the terrorists and this causes you to start clock watching, waiting for the minutes to tick by till the expected big action scenes show up. Oh there area few surprises whilst it is treading water but not enough to really grab you.
But the thing about "North Sea Hijack" is that this is a movie about Roger Moore, not the typical suave and charming Roger Moore but a curmudgeonly one. There is almost a touch of the bolshy James Robertson Justice about the way Moore plays ffolkes and it makes him amusing, from his demanding regime he puts his men through to the way he has no respect for those who are in authority. It's also amusing that ffolkes detests women and prefers cats because not only does it make him the complete opposite of ladies man James Bond but also almost makes him a comical Bond villain in the way he loves his cats. It is because this is such a different character for Moore that "North Sea Hijack" works and is one of my favourite Roger Moore performances, tongue in cheek but not cheesy.
Because "North Sea Hijack" is really all about Roger Moore the rest of the cast don't really make an impression, which in some ways is a good thing. Whilst James Mason is ideally cast as Admiral Sir Francis Brindsen you have to question the choice of Anthony Perkins as head terrorist Lou Kramer as he is by no means menacing enough and ends up quite weak. And whilst we have Moore playing someone who doesn't like women there is the obligatory attractive young woman who leads to an amusing scene between Moore and Lea Brodie who plays boyish crew member Sanna.
What this all boils down to is that "North Sea Hijack" is in many ways very typical of the action movies which Roger Moore found himself in whilst playing James Bond but it is entertaining. And the simple reason to why it entertains is because Moore is playing a very different character to what we are use to, a character who feels like the off spring of James Robertson Justice with his curmudgeonly ways.