The Kidnapping of the President (1979)
Returning to his homeland, William Shatner stars in this interesting “what if” Canadian production where he actually plays an American secret service agent in charge of rescuing President Hal Holbrook from the clutches of a maniacal terrorist.
The film begins by setting us up with just how sadistic the lead villain played by Miguel Fernandes can be to those around him as he plots to take the U.S. President hostage in order to extract 100 million dollars in diamonds from the U.S. Government. He kills all those who might present a loose end as he heads to Toronto Canada where the caper will take place. Meeting him there will be his two accomplices who have rigged a local Brinks truck with all kinds of trip wires and explosives.
Shatner as our head agent has a bad feeling about this whole Toronto trip and would prefer that Holbrook stay away from the crowds but this President loves to walk among the people. It’s at this point that he finds himself handcuffed to a well wisher. It is of course Fernandes with dynamite strapped around his body and a detonator in his hand. With Shatner holding a gun on him and trying to keep Holbrook alive, he allows our terrorist to put the Prez in the back of the Armored truck.
The film becomes a bit of a cat and mouse game as Shatner spars with Fernandes over the diamond exchange and the safe return of Holbrook to the oval office. The Canadian police naturally step aside to let our hero Shatner run the show.
Joining in the fun as Vice President who needs to make some crucial decisions is Van Johnson. He’s a worthy successor to the presidency and his wife played by Ava Gardner would like nothing better than to see herself as the next First Lady. One of the films better scenes is actually when Holbrook gets a chance to chat with his First Lady, Elizabeth Shepherd over a loudspeaker. It’s a nice touch as they reminisce about times past in the face of realizing they may not have a future together.
We shouldn’t worry too much because before the fade out Captain Kirk takes on the form of a true cinematic tough guy in the Clint Eastwood mold and tells our terrorist friend, “You f–k with me and I’ll rip you’re heart out!”
The film was directed by George Mendeluk who has worked mainly in television. If it wasn’t for the level of violence in the film, one could almost see this as a movie of the week on prime time Sunday night. A decent cast is involved here and well known character actor, the late Maury Chaykin appears as well. Maury had a long association with the Canadian film industry despite being born in New York. He actually passed away in Toronto in 2010.
Holbrook is good as usual and there are less Shatner(isms) this time out for the future T.J. Hooker star.
I haven’t noticed this one around on DVD but it is available on VHS which is how I viewed this Canadian production with the obligatory Mounties on parade and flocks of Sea Gulls. If you’ve been to Toronto you’ll know what I mean by Sea Gulls. Damn birds are everywhere.