Director: John Madden
Stars: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Johnny Flynn, Jason Isaacs
There’s more than a whiff of déjà vu in this passable, if rote stiff upper lip WW2 yarn, based on true events. In 1943 British forces hatch an elaborate plan to fool the Nazis into thinking that the Allies are going to invade Greece, rather than the anticipated Sicily. The plan involves procuring the body of a dead male, planting plans of the fictitious Greek landing on him, and then having the corpse wash up on the coast of southeast Spain. The Twenty Group is set up (XX = 20, double cross, geddit? Oh, please yourselves!) to carry out the plan with intelligence officer Ewen Montagu (Firth) heading up the operation, assisted by grounded Air Force intelligence officer Charles Cholmondeley (Macfadyen) and head of staff Jean Leslie (McDonald), who offers up one of her own holiday snaps to be the sweetheart photograph in the dead man’s belongings. Also working on the project is Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming (yes, that one) who also narrates the film, and is played by Johnny Flynn, permanently perched over typewriter with a scotch in hand, in an almost comically louche manner. Shades of ‘Enigma’ in its depiction of a disparate band of plucky Brits pulling together for the common good and all that, and while game-changing events don’t necessarily translate into exciting cinema, director Madden just about keeps the pace up over a lengthy running time. Firth isn’t really stretching himself here in his role as a stuffy sensitive chap, but Macfadyen has a bit more fun as the emotionally needy and fussy Cholmondeley. The love triangle between the lead trio feels a little surplus to mission requirements in an already cluttered script.