Drake arrives in South East Asia to assist an old friend, Peta Jason (Maggie Fitzgibbon). Mrs Jason is the owner of a small airline which has lost several planes recently. Sabotage would seem to be the most likely reason, but if so who and why?
As so often, we find ourselves in a politically unstable part of the world where a nameless government (today they’re referred to simply as the new regime) are in power. Are the new regime responsible for blowing up the planes? If not, maybe one of their embittered opponents are doing their best to ensure that they take the blame.
It turns out to be the latter, although there’s no real clues or evidence offered – we’re told that’s the case and it turns out to be so. Since this part of the story isn’t much of a whodunnit we’ll pass on to more meaty matters.
Drake decides the best way to get to the bottom of things will be to join the cabin crew as a steward. He then acts as a drunken and corrupt one (all the better for attracting any criminal elements lurking close at hand). Patrick McGoohan’s drunk acting is something of an acquired taste – if you’re a fan then you’ll certainly enjoy his over the top antics early on (although I will concede that Drake’s ability to suddenly return to his usual cold, focused persona once he’s alone is effective).
For once, the cast doesn’t feature too many familiar faces. Alex Scott (as Benson, one of the airline’s loyal pilots) is probably the most recognisable. Yvonne Romain gives a good performance as Giselle Simon, a femme fatale who attempts to ensnare Drake (but proves to be no match for our Secret Agent). R. Bobby Naidoo as the corpulent and vocally high-pitched crime boss Chin Lee also makes an impression.
Despite the joint efforts of Michael Pertwee and Ian Stuart Black, the storyline never quite clicks for me. Even though she’s lost several planes, Mrs Jason doesn’t seem terribly bothered (neither do any of her flight crews – you’d have assumed they’d all be anxiously looking for safer jobs elsewhere). The pre-credits sequence focuses on a tea urn in one of the unfortunate planes – making it plain that’s where the bomb is (which rather negates any later mystery or tension).
True, Drake does force open another tea urn later on to reveal a gold bar (just as well that one didn’t contain a bomb, otherwise his heavy handed handling would have had explosive consequences) but this revelation only muddies matters somewhat. The gold smuggling is a subplot that could have been deleted without harming the story too much.
The climax (Drake lures the mastermind onto a plane he knows is due to carry a bomb) also falls a little flat as it’s obvious Drake has left the bomb behind and substituted it for a real tea urn.
So not the most thrilling or satisfying of stories, but the acting’s good and there’s some decent back projection shots which almost convince us we’re not on the studio backlot. A fair to middling effort then.