Caine Blows the Whistle
The first time I watched "The Whistle Blower" I was disappointed as whilst it was a capable thriller it was not exciting. The second time I watched it in the knowledge that it was more about the acting and writing than big scenes I hoped I would enjoy it a bit more but sadly I didn't. The thing is that "The Whistle Blower" isn't a bad movie and in fact is a well written thriller with some decent acting and a sense of intrigue and mystery which any good thriller should have. But unfortunately it all seems rather dull as it almost runs at one level never really getting exciting and whilst it contains surprises they do little to really draw you into this tale of political conspiracy and cover up.
Working as a Russian translator at GCHQ in Cheltenham, Robert Jones (Nigel Havers - Chariots of Fire) believes that the CIA are putting pressure on the British Intelligence agency to plug any leaks, and desperate to keep the special relationship going the British agree even if it means killing agents. Confiding in his father Frank (Michael Caine - Half Moon Street), a one time GCHQ operative, over his suspicions, he is unaware that he is under surveillance. When Robert dies, supposedly falling from his roof top, Frank starts digging into what is really happening as he takes matters into his own hands.
It has to be said that political thrillers, those that concern themselves with government cover ups are not that unusual and as such for one to be anything more than average it needs to deliver in every area. Now the storyline and writing in "The Whistle Blower" is pretty good, it weaves this web of intrigue around people mysteriously dieing as they come close to discovering some form of government truth. In a way the writing and the storyline are the best things about "The Whistle Blower" because it does create a sense of intrigue as you try and work out whether there is really a political cover up and how deep it goes in the halls of British power. And to make it more interesting there are some surprises, unexpected deaths and some interesting scenes as Frank Jones gets closer to the truth.
The other thing which "The Whistle Blower" delivers is good acting and most importantly good acting from Michael Caine. As Frank Jones, Caine delivers a purposefully restrained performance creating this quite character, one who is almost emotionally neutered to what he discovers and sees around him. But whilst restrained we are fully aware that there is hidden rage running deep inside, he just keeps it in check in an almost British Stiff Upper lip way. And the various scenes he shares with the likes of Nigel Havers who plays his son Robert and Sir John Gielgud who plays Sir Adrian Chapple are full of atmosphere and emotion without it being overly obvious.
To be honest Michael Caine delivers the best performance in "The Whistle Blower" and with a cast which on top of featuring Nigel Havers and Sir John Gielgud also features James Fox and Gordon Jackson it feels like they are very much in his shadow. That doesn't mean they put in bad performances, Nigel Havers may look slightly wrong as his son with those incredibly thick rimmed glasses, but he delivers a good performance as do all the cast.
But the thing is that "The Whistle Blower" seems to play along at one level, the storyline may lead towards what should be a dramatic ending and works to build up tension but it is devoid of action. Now not all thrillers need action but this lack of visual excitement ends up making "The Whistle Blower" quite dull. You keep sitting there, waiting for something to happen, something which injects some pace and excitement but it never comes and when it's all over you are left wondering whether it was made on such a restricted budget that it didn't allow for any real visual dramatics. I am sure some will find the intriguing storyline of government conspiracy and cover up with the good acting sufficient but for me it wasn't enough.
What this all boils down to is that "The Whistle Blower" is a good thriller and although it is over twenty years old doesn't come across as that dated but the lack of action and excitement means it ends up average. And it is a shame as the storyline and writing is good as is the acting in particular that from Michael Caine who delivers a restrained but very good performance. But that lack of action means that "The Whistle Blower" ends up being a movie which pretty much runs at one level and is lacking the peaks of excitement which some action scenes would have delivered.