The Syndicate - out now on DVD

Monday, 22 June 2015 23:00 Written by 

The Syndicate - out now on DVDMurder, sabotage and suspicion are rife in this British thriller about a fractious band of uranium prospectors seeking riches in the east African bush. William Sylvester ("2001: A Space Odyssey") stars as a mining expert in an excellent ensemble cast that also features June Ritchie ("A Kind of Loving"), Robert Urquhart ("The Curse of Frankenstein"), German actor Christian Doermer and John Bennett (a classic Doctor Who guest star, having played Li H'sen Chang in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” and General Finch in “The Invasion of the Dinosaurs”).

A two-vehicle convoy travels through an unforgiving and vast African landscape; several days pass before they locate a site where their Geiger counter twitches into life. Having set up camp, the prospectors instruct their Swahili workers to start digging, but it is not long before a series of setbacks and deadly accidents occurs, creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear. Who is undermining their operation and why?

This movie has two key strengths: the stunning location cinematography, shot in Kenya, and the gripping, cutting interplay between the sharply-drawn characters. Every shot looks fantastic whilst also reminding the viewer of the ever-present threat of dangerous wildlife and depleting water reserves.

The cast do a fine job of competing for attention with the natural beauty. Alongside Sylvester's calm and collected miner, Urquhart is an alcoholic hunter with a good command of the local language, Ritchie plays his frustrated, femme fatale wife, and Doermer is the prospector who provides the initial intel on the uranium deposits, a much younger man than the other two but determined to prove himself.

Blond bombshell Ritchie smoulders throughout, making the otherwise all-male cast very twitchy in an atmosphere thick with sexual tension, and stoking the obsessive behaviour of her husband. Director Frederic Goode ("Death is a Woman") should be commended for maintaining a pressure-cooker atmosphere in such an open, expansive environment.

You will be kept guessing about the identity of the traitor or traitors until the final 15 minutes or so, when the film steps up a gear before reaching a very dramatic conclusion.

The bonus content on the disc includes a trailer and a small image gallery.

“The Syndicate” (1968) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Network. The main feature has a running time of 98 minutes approx, carries a ‘12’ certificate and retails for £9.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 08:07

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