The Liquidator (1966)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Spy Film  |   Release Date - Nov 1, 1965 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The first of what was intended to be a series, The Liquidator is a moderately entertaining James Bond spoof. Unlike other contemporary spy knock-offs (such as the Matt Helm films), The Liquidator actually does a little more than take the Bond basics and riff on them. Instead, it has a premise that could provide for a great deal of fun -- namely that the Bond stand-in is someone who doesn't want to kill and who doesn't really want to be a spy (although he certainly comes to enjoy some of the fringe benefits that come with it, at least in the world of cinema spies). The Liquidator even sets up an interesting solution to this dilemma by having reluctant spy Boysie Oakes hire someone to do his killing for him. In other hands, this conflict could provide for an intriguing moral examination, one that could still be handled in a comic way but that would give the film a bit of weight. Unfortunately, writer Peter Yeldham and director Jack Cardiff take the easy way out, never exploring this aspect. Indeed, Yeldham's script, while amusing and entertaining enough, ultimately ends up being a bit too lightweight all around. It's well crafted, but empty. The Liquidator might also have been a bit better with a more versatile actor than Rod Taylor in the lead. He's fine and does the job well, but he lacks a certain spark that would have lifted the film up to a higher level of entertainment. The rest of the cast, especially Trevor Howard, Eric Sykes, and a delectable Jill St. John, is a big help, and The Liquidator is certainly easy to take. It's just a shame that the creators didn't try a little harder.