Thirty years after the film of Len Deighton’s novel The Ipcress File (1965), Michael Caine resurrects his British spy Harry Palmer, first pitched as an off-the-peg rival to the bespoke James Bond.
In this very average effort, Palmer has retired from the British Secret Service and is in Russia, working with former KGB agents to prevent North Korea from using a stolen synthesised biological weapon known as Alorax – “The Red Death”.
Michael Gambon plays a Russian magnate and there’s the casting in-joke of Jason Connery as a Russian agent, while Sue Lloyd makes a welcome appearance, reprising her role of Jean from The Ipcress File.
Caine and Connery made a second Palmer movie, Midnight in St Petersburg, back to back with this one. Sadly, neither film had much success.