Stand-up comedian turned actor Eddie Izzard returns to the big screen, ish, with his new film Six Minutes To Midnight which he not only takes the lead role in, but also, for the first time, was involved in the writing.
Izzard writes alongside Celyn Jones (“The Vanishing”, “Set Fire To The Stars”), who also stars in the movie, and Andy Goddard (“Set Fire To The Stars”), who also directs.
The story is based on the story of the Augusta Victoria College in Bexhill that once housed a finishing school attended by two dozen daughters of the high-ranking Nazi regime.
The thinking was that Germany would not risk going to war with Britain with so many of their beloved daughters at risk on the island.
Izzard, who grew up in the area, apparently spent years researching the school and creating the story in which he stars.
The story that has been woven is a good one: Thomas Miller (Izzard) is sent to the school to find out what happened to the previous English teacher Mr. Wheatley, Nigel Lindsay (“Dead In A Week: Or Your Money Back”, “Four Lions”), when he mysteriously vanishes after sending an urgent message to his handlers in the secret service.
For both Wheatley and Miller are spies, masquerading as teachers, to keep an eye on the girls at the school and their headmistress Miss Rocholl, Judi Dench (“Murder On The Orient Express”, “Spectre”).
It doesn’t take Miller long to realise that the go-between for the girl’s welfare and the Germans is the helper in the school, Ilse Miller, Carla Juri (“Blade Runner 2049”, “Brimstone”). She is the one who is going to take the girls to a local sand dune where a German plane will pick them up, ahead of the war starting.
So, good story, good actors and performances. All good then yeah? Well, I’d love to say yes, however the story takes a very rapid tumble just as things should be picking up.
Miller, who is apparently a good enough spy to be placed undercover ahead of the second world war, is in the car reporting to his boss Colonel Smith, David Schofield (“Darkest Hour”, “Mindhorn”), when Smith is shot.
The two men tumble out of the car and Miller hangs around with his dying boss, like they do in the movies, then wonders over to where the shooter dropped the gun, picks it up and begins studying it until the police arrive and begin chasing him.
He hides on the beach and in the morning the police catch-up with him again and he runs to the nearest pier, the nearest crowded pier, and causes a fracas with a couple at a phone booth as he’s desperate to make a phone call. The police chase him again.
Once caught, this great spy decides to trust the next detective to walk through into the police cell, James D’Arcy (“Dunkirk”, “Broadchurch (TV)”), with the fact he’s an undercover agent and, wouldn’t you know it, he probably shouldn’t have done. All of this is before you’ve got to the final stand-off scene which is also eye-roll inducing.
It’s all a bit of a shame really as, up until that point, the movie was good, very good. A great story with great performances, so it’s painful to see the thriller side of the movie so Hollywood-esq…and not in a good way.