The Formula (1980)    0 Stars

In a world starved for energy, no secret is more valuable.”

The Formula (1980)
 The Formula (1980)


Director: John G. Avildsen

Cast: George C. Scott, Marlon Brando, Marthe Keller

Synopsis: A detective uncovers a formula that was devised by the Nazis in WWII to make gasoline from synthetic products.




It’s difficult to believe that actors of the stature of George C. Scott (Dr Strangelove, The Hospital) and Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire, The Godfather) signed up for a film as bad as The Formula. The movie looks ok, and is reasonably well made, but the script is workmanlike (and I’m being charitable here) while the storyline is so densely plotted it’s nigh-on impossible to follow. For the first hour, I had to keep rewinding to try and figure out who was who and what the hell was going on. By the second hour I just didn’t care anymore.

The story, as far as I can figure out, has something to do with a formula created by the Nazis that enables synthetic fuel to be manufactured easily and cheaply. I’d better say no more than that, because I could quite easily be giving away spoilers without realising it if I do. Hardly anything actually seems to happen for a lot of the movie: Scott, looking tired and out of shape, talks to a lot of people who turn up for ten minutes to say their piece, then disappear. Brando (who just looks out of shape) mumbles his lines as only Marlon can, in what amounts to little more than a cameo role, and the showdown between the two giants is a major disappointment.

Once I start watching a film I never give up on it, so I saw this one through to the bitter end, even though, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have a clue what the hell was going on. But, after ninety minutes, I was just praying for the damn thing to be over.

(Reviewed 26th April 2002)

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