Saturday, 7 May 2011



It doesn't look right on the screen, but that IS precisely how the title appears at the start of the film, with quotation marks around the word Human: probably because the film deals in part with the difference between a cold, analytical computer and the instinctive actions of a man, in the guise of a violent revenge thriller. This is a moderately interesting but ultimately restrained Euro-based action movie with some good solid names on both sides of the camera, but sadly it doesn't really work when it's all put together.

Electronics boffin George Kennedy returns home from his NATO War Games Computer Simulation duties one night to discover that his wife and children have been mercilessly slaughtered. Naturally perhaps, he wants revenge and would rather execute the perpetrators himself than see them carted off to jail, so suborns his NATO computer system's intelligence capabilities, along with his colleagues John Mills and Rita Tushingham, to track the killers down. But Kennedy's own profile has also been put into the computer, which predicts that his attempts to personally despatch the villains only has an eight per cent chance of success - though the computer reckons without The "Human" Factor of the man's overwhelming desire for avenging justice.

Perhaps it's unfortunate that the computer is codenamed 9-11, given that this is a film dealing with terrorists. And say what you like about George Kennedy - and I like him - but the man cannot run, and unfortunately there's a lot of running for him to do in this film. He's a terrific character actor (Kennedy speaks about character acting in the DVD interview featurette) and he's always good value in everything he does, but he's just not leading man material, especially in an action film with fighting and car stunts and rooftop chases - you can tell when it's the stuntman because he can run. Other familiar names and faces pop up - Raf Vallone, Barry Sullivan, Shane Rimmer; there's an Ennio Morricone score and it's directed by Hollywood veteran Edward Dmytryck.

It's always nice to see 70s action movies exhumed from the vaults after all these years: even if, as in this instance, it's not very good overall, there are incidental pleasures such as an unfamiliar Morricone soundtrack. While The "Human" Factor isn't terrible, it's not essential viewing either: it's a bit limp, a bit underwhelming, despite the occasional bursts of Death Wish violence that still make it an 18-rated film.


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