Internecine: a fancy word for multiple murder.
Product in, Product out.
The Internecine Project slaps a pretty fancy title on an otherwise tepid programmer of the international intrigue variety–in this case, merely because it employs its key actors in a country not their own.
Currently stationed in London, American law professor Dr. Robert Elliot (James Coburn, Affliction) serves at the pleasure of the President, as an advisor to the Senate foreign relations committee. Apparently he’s done such a bang-up job that the big man wants to bring Elliot home and appoint him as chairman of his Economic Advisory committee; a tremendous promotion. First, however, the candidate will have to pass an intensive congressional review, where any evidence of impropriety in his past could effectively do his chances in.
Reasoning that there’s only one sure way to stop someone from divulging dirty secrets, Elliot determines to eliminate his four member network of secret operatives—those he’s employed to get results by any means necessary—thus ensuring that his illustrious career will continue to move forward on greased rails.
Ah, but how? Expert thinkologist that he is, the professor fills a brandy snifter, lights a fresh cigar and settles into his leather easy chair, to consider the situation. But, of course: he’ll get the four (unwitting) participants to set up and murder each other.
There’s another problem, in the form of Jean Robinson (Lee Grant, Shampoo,) a highly decorated investigative journalist of the pesky, questioning variety. Beyond sparring on matters of policy and professional ethics, she and Elliot have previously tussled over matters of the heart and the sheets. What to do here? Elliot certainly can’t get involved with killing a woman—well, aside from Christina Larsson (Christiane Krüger, De Sade), his sultry secret agent, but that’s different because it’s business, right?
Damn his irresistible charm! Elliot resolves to lead the lovesick journo along, at least until he’s able to put in motion that planned four-way killing spree; all set to take place over a four hour period on the night before he leaves for America at the end of the week.
Though its title suggests a heretofore undiscovered Alstair Maclean manuscript, this low-boil spy thriller actually got its start as a ten page film treatment from an alleged former C.I.A. agent named Mort W. Elkind. Sadly, the feature length screenplay by Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny) and Barry Levinson (no, not that Barry Levinson) contains no more character depth than one would expect from such scant source material, and the finished project boasts no more gratuitous, lustful skullduggery than one might expect from Ken Hughes, the director of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Kino Lorber brings The Internecine Project to Blu-ray in a serviceable 1.78:1/1080p transfer with a perfectly acceptable 2.0. DTS-HD Master Audio track.
Extras include an eighteen minute interview with Lynn, reminiscing about his first screenwriting assignment, giving a witty, insider’s account of the process that began with an intriguing premise and resulted in an utterly forgettable film that managed to squander not one but two Oscar-winning actors in leading roles. Otherwise, there’s a look a the film’s original trailer, which gives too much away if you watch it in advance of the feature, so be forewarned.
If nothing else, The Internecine Project shows how far black-ops have come since back in the days when wristwatches needed synchronizing, hidden door keys had to be located, and operatives were required to dart into and out of darkened phone boxes in order to receive further instructions, etc. In other words, you’ve got what amounts to a cinematic episode of television’s Mission: Impossible series which, ironically, expired of old age one year before this moth-eaten time-passer flickered (briefly) across big screens during the summer of 1974.
Product in, product out.
This film self-destructs within 89 minutes.