Cold Sweat Review

Action heroes have a habit of losing their loved ones to kidnappers and villains whose aims are either domination of some small district, money, or both. Cold Sweat is a pioneer of the action tropes and is in safe hands when pooling its worth with Charles Bronson and Liv Ullmann. Who better to helm it than Terence Young? His best efforts on the James Bond series were notable not just for their catapulting of Sean Connery but their stern action and the ease Young appeared to have in crafting great setpieces. But that all landed on the shoulders of interesting characters, and Young must have broken out into a cold sweat of his own upon seeing this script.

Not all action pieces are going to have the greatest of scripts, but there is a fine line between bumbling and brilliant. See Commando as a guiding hand of how to turn cheesy monotone dialogue into the brilliance that relays and foreshadows many of the action pieces throughout. Cold Sweat can’t quite manage that because it doesn’t have the opportunity to do so. At least the film doesn’t waste any time in getting into its action. No time at all before Ullmann is kidnapped, Bronson is bleeding and Captain Ross (James Mason) is established as some old buddy from some distant war. Established in the loosest use of the term possible, because there is very little that needs establishing. Even at a time when the genre was taking off away from the westerns helmed by John Wayne, there was still an understanding of what a hero would do, and how a villain would try and stop them.

That simplicity makes for the usual feature reel of tense scenes and stirring performances. Heavy lifting performed by Ullmann and a decent role for Michel Constantin make for interesting scenes, but the hammy acting that surrounds them is troubling. Not quite impossible to overcome, but the issue is that Young still appears to think he is working with the greats that pioneered the Bond franchise when actually he is crafting something far flimsier and something that will expire much faster. Cold Sweat is pumped full of car chases and gunfights, the issue is the characters within them, firing bullets back and forth and dealing with their own mortality. Even then, it doesn’t matter because the script can make neither heads nor tails of this one.

Another one for Grandad if it’s on Amazon Prime and the CSI: Miami reruns have expired once again. At least Bronson has appeal in the iconography he presents, but he is a shoddy lead in Cold Sweat because of just how droll it all becomes. Cold Sweat has a relatively tense ending and a bumpy conclusion that sees heroics prevail as ever. What Young and company struggle with is not the three-act structure of the action structure, but of how to put it together convincingly. A family man is dragged in, chewed up and spat out and drags his wife and daughter through it all. They remain unchanged. The audience remains unmoved.

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