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Review: Condor’s Nest – “There was so much potential”

We open on a US Bomber crashlanding in enemy territory during World War II. The crew are panicked. One runs over to a nearby farmhouse to keep watch, while the others get what they can from the wreck of the plane. They are found by a squad of German soldiers. The German leader, Colonel Bach (Arnold Vosloo), questions the US soldiers and executes them one by one. The only survivor was the man in the farmhouse. He then spends the next decade seeking revenge on Colonel Bach.

What you have there is a great opening for a film. You set up the main characters, you have some intense moments and it leads into a classic tale of revenge. Sadly, the film that is wrapped around this story does not do it justice.

Written and directed by Phil Blattenberger, you can see they wanted to make the next Inglourious Basterds but it go diluted with Dad’s Army. You can see the influence of Tarantino’s war movie in some of the main story beats – the opening with a German officer questioning and killing people near a house in a field, the heroes being question by German operatives in a bar and so on.

As I said, the basic storyline is sound and has all the makings of a rip-roaring pulpy revenge story. However, there are too many twists and turns thrown in which make the proceedings turn into a bit of a comedy with characters popping in and out of the proceedings as and when needed. The script could have done with a couple more passes to tighten everything up.

The lack of budget also doesn’t help. They do the best with what they have, but there are many scenes where you can see they’ve done a minimal amount of set dressing at a location but you can tell it is still in the present day. The scenes near the end with the Nazi officers having a conversation look like they were filmed in somebodys living room.

The directing is very pedestrian with basic camera setups and nothing to amp up the few action scenes in the film. A few dutch angles here and there would have improved a few scenes and put us more in the mind of the protagonist.

I feel bad saying this as it does take so many things to make a film and everyone involved is giving their all, but I have to be honest.

Jacob Keohane as Will Spalding is the character seeking revenge and he should be the main charismatic thrust of the film, but Will is just a cipher. You don’t get a sense of anger forcing him on his quest. He just tells people. He seems to be shell-shocked at the beginning of the film and that carries on throughout. I am not sure whether that was a choice by the actor or from the script.

Al Pagano as the enigmatic Albert Vogel is the standout. His character has a lot of life and you are never sure which side he is on. He lifted all the scenes he was in.

They got Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy), Michael Ironside (Total Recall) and Bruce Davison (X-Men) involved to get people in and I was looking forward to seeing them all. Vosloo comes out of it the best as he is the villain of the piece, but it is just the beginning and the end of the film when he appears. You feel his absence throughout. Ironside is always cool, but his character is tired and worn out so there is not much for him to do. Davison just looks like he is not quite sure what is going on, but he makes the most of what little he has to work with.

It is all such a shame as there was so much potential. I was willing to go along with things despite the low-budget look and feel of the film and would have been happy with a so-bad-it-is-good kind of deal, but the lackluster direction and performances really let things down. In the end, I was just bored and waiting for the film to end.

Condor’s Nest will be available on Digital Download from 20th March & DVD from 3rd April.

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