Dr. Jonathan Hemlock (Clint Eastwood) is an art history professor and collector who finances his hobby by performing the odd sanction (assassination) for an obscure government bureau. He is forced to take a case where he must find out which of the members of a mountain climbing team is the Russian killer he has been given as a target by joining an expedition to climb the treacherous Eiger.
Great climbing sequences make this hidden gem worth watching!
Clint Eastwood stars as a former government assassin turned art teacher who is blackmailed into coming out of his retirement to pull off a difficult last job. A former colleague has been murdered. Eastwood will climb the Eiger face and kill the assassin along the way. The only problem is he isn’t sure which of the three other climbers is his target.
‘The Eiger Sanction’ is very much a product of the 1970’s, and comes from a difficult grey area of Eastwood’s career. He was transitioning between Westerns and Dirty Harry and films like ‘The Eiger Sanction’ got lost in the mix. On the surface the film is a spy thriller, or a gorgeously shot mountain climbing/survival film. I think it doesn’t get enough credit for being very tongue in cheek. It gently pokes fun at both Eastwood and 70’s action movies — Clint giving a female student a playful pat on the rump, the foxy brown flight attendant/girlfriend, and of course “damn that Brando” when Clint’s Native American trainer pushes him too hard. Throw in the promiscuity and the way homosexuality is dealt with (rival gay hit-man with the little dog) and the film runs pretty nicely as a satire.
‘The Eiger Sanction’ is really about the third act though where the climbing takes place. Brilliantly photographed, I didn’t find much not to enjoy about this film. Quite possibly the best climbing film that I’ve ever seen and it is certainly superior to things like ‘Cliff Hanger’ or ‘Vertical Limit’ — which owe a great deal to ‘The Eiger Sanction.’ Clint Eastwood has acted in better movies and he’s directed better movies. That said, this one is an unpolished gem and worth taking a look at if the opportunity arises.