A heist thriller that sacrifices believability and logic in the name of plot twists, Killer Force—also known as The Diamond Mercenaries—features an offbeat cast and a moderately exciting climax filled with bloodshed and chases and gunfights. Getting to the finale requires a bit of patience, since the picture’s first two acts are a bit on the sluggish side, and none should seek out Killer Force hoping for anything along the lines of resonance or substance. This is manly-man escapism of the most vapid sort imaginable, although the macho posturing is leavened by leading man Peter Fonda’s sensitive-dude mannerisms. Plus, it’s hard to take the movie too seriously, not only because of the far-fetched storyline, but also because of two peculiar visual tropes: Costar Telly Savalas wears sunglasses throughout the entire movie, removing them only in the final shot, and Fonda sports a goofy perm that looks like a half-hearted attempt at a white-guy Afro. The innate silliness of Killer Force is part of the movie’s appeal, but that’s to be expected of any movie featuring O.J. Simpson in a supporting role.
Set in the South African desert, the picture revolves around a heavily fortified diamond mine. Harry Webb (Savalas), a cold-blooded security specialist, arrives at the sprawling facility because clues indicate that someone is planning an inside-job robbery. Mike Bradley (Fonda) is a member of the private army that patrols the facility and the surrounding area. Criminal mastermind John Lewis (Hugh O’Brien) has assembled a small team to invade the mine and steal diamonds. His accomplices include easygoing “Bopper” Alexander (Simpson) and sadistic ex-solider Major Chilton (Christopher Lee). Another player in the convoluted plot is Chambers (Stuart Brown), the facility’s administrator. Distrusting Webb, Chambers asks Bradley to play double agent by seeking out and joining the conspirators, thus drawing them into a trap. Complicating matters is Mike’s romantic involvement with Chambers’ fashion-model daughter, Clare (Maud Adams). And so it goes from there. Intrigue compounds intrigue, with the body count growing as the date of the inevitable heist attempt draws ever closer.
About half of what happens in Killer Force makes logical sense, although everything goes down smoothly in a dunderheaded, Saturday-matinee sort of way. There’s a little romance, a little sex, a little male bonding, and lots of dudes grimacing with fierce determination. Director Val Guest—a somewhat unlikely candidate for this gig, seeing as how he’s best known for his sci-fi pictures—shoots Killer Force with the bland, boxy style of episodic television, so Killer Force doesn’t get any points for style. Still, the cast is hard to beat as a random assortment of familiar faces, and there’s just enough action to keep the picture’s blood pumping.
Killer Force: FUNKY