The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - SILENT ACTION | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - SILENT ACTION

silent action review
A police inspector uncovers a sinister political plot.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Sergio Martino

Starring: Luc Merenda, Tomas Milian, Mel Ferrer, Delia Boccardo, Paola Tedesco

silent action blu-ray

If the swinging sixties was Europe's belated party to celebrate patching things up after WWII, the 1970s was one big hangover. Thanks to extremists on both sides of the political fence, the cities of Western Europe were regularly rocked by explosions in town squares, in railway stations and on public transport, and hijackings and kidnappings were commonplace. After taking its place as the glamour capital of the continent in the '50s and '60s, Italy found itself drenched in blood as fascists and communists battled for control, while the Mafia took advantage of the distracted police to amp up their activities. This period, known as "The Years of Lead" was reflected in a new Italian cinema of violence, with gialli, cop thrillers, gangster movies and political thrillers all enjoying success as they exploited the unease felt by Italian cinemagoers.

silent action review

Though best known for his gialli work, Sergio Martino dabbled in all of the aforementioned sub-genres, and his 1975 conspiracy thriller Silent Action often feels like a mashing together of the various strands of Italian popular cinema of its era. It's got car chases, shootouts, beautiful young women stalked and preyed upon by killers, and a heavy dose of mistrust of Italy's powers that be. It might be viewed as a lesser companion to Massimo Dallamano's 1974 What Have They Done To Your Daughters?, which so expertly blends its sub-genres that it's arguably the ideal entry point for anyone wishing to explore Italian pop cinema.

Silent Action lacks the rapid pacing and adrenalised energy of Dallamano's film, as seen in its languid first half, which plays a lot like a TV police procedural. Following a montage of high ranking military officials being assassinated in ways that look like suicide (watch out for that prosthetic head being severed by a train!), we're introduced to our chiseled hero, police inspector Solmi (Luc Merenda).

silent action review

Solmi is called in to investigate the murder of an electrical engineer, who suspiciously lives in a home well above his job title's pay grade. A long strand of black hair found at the crime scene leads Solmi to believe the victim had been visited by a woman (an odd assertion in the glam rock era), and upon investigation he learns that the murdered man was sidelining as a private investigator. With the aid of his journalist girlfriend (Delia Boccardo), Solmi digs deep and uncovers a sinister plot involving a right wing paramilitary group intent on seizing power.

If Silent Action's first half feels like a bit of a drag, as Solmi moves from one interrogation to another, stick with it, as Martino's film suddenly explodes into life in its back half. When a witness is killed en route to jail, we get a cracking car chase involving an assassin on a motorbike being chased by Solmi in his battered police issue jalopy while a bunch of hoods try to run him off the road. It's a classic '70s Italian car chase, with knackered cars bashing lumps out of each other and stuntmen running the sort of risks they'd never be allowed to today – you can almost smell the sweating insurance agents looking on behind the camera. This is quickly followed by a giallo-esque scene in which a prostitute (Paola Tedesco) is hunted by killers who wish to silence her, and the film climaxes in a mass shootout that wouldn't be out of place closing out a Roger Moore Bond movie.

silent action review

I've always preferred when these movies give us an out-of-depth Joe Public protagonist rather than a competent public servant. Despite the dangerous bee's nest he's poking, Solmi never really feels like he's in much peril. Conversely, the aforementioned scene involving the prostitute is the film's most tense sequence, as we genuinely fear for her. A more interesting version of this film might have played out from her perspective, perhaps teaming up with Solmi ala Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland in Klute. Yet while Silent Action is never quite as gripping as it might have been, it's an entertaining distillation of everything that was occurring in both Italy's cinema and its politics in the '70s, a fruitful time on screen if a fearful era on the streets.

Italian and English audio tracks; commentary by Mike Malloy; a talking heads heavy documentary on "The Age of Lead"; interviews with Sergio Martino, Luc Merenda and composer Luciano Michelini; archival featurette. The disc also comes in a limited edition slipcase with a soundtrack CD and collector's booklet.

Silent Action
 is on UK blu-ray April 12th from Fractured Visions.