The 39 Steps (2008) TV Movie Review
When you eavesdrop on a Twitter conversation between two of your friends, sometimes you walk away with a new recommendation. This is how my seeing The 39 Steps came to be. What I came away with was a mostly good Saturday night’s 80-minutes worth of entertainment.
London society no longer holds any kind of appeal for Richard Hannay (Rupert Penry-Jones). As, first a solider and now an engineer returned from Africa, he thrives on being in dangerous places and situations. This is perhaps why, a spy winding up in his flat doesn’t much faze him.
The spy reveals events that could cripple England, already on the cusp of a Second World War. All of this precedes the man’s death, which happens in Richard’s living room. His death sends Richard not just on the run from ruthless men, but also on a quest to clear his name; he stands accused of murder!! Armed with a notebook he doesn’t know how to decode, he finds Victoria Sinclair (Lydia Leonard). When Richard encounters Victoria and her brother (Patrick Kennedy, Bleak House), he is mistaken for someone else. This temporarily offers him a disguise.
Once his pursuers catch up, Richard is again on the run, only this time it’s with a feisty feminist activist in tow. Between Victoria’s mysterious uncle, and a mysterious message the spy left Richard, the pair have a cipher to unravel. Something that may well impact national security.
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There are some stories that don’t exactly turn out as one expects. This falls among those. Yet it’s still a rollicking good time. Since not everything can be among Foyle’s War caliber that is just what this little mystery is. Speaking to its flaws, it’s far too short to really flesh out, but for a fun caper, The 39 Steps is the ticket. Let’s talk about the cast.
There’s Rupert Penry-Jones, which in and of itself is enough incentive because of Captain Wentworth (whom Jones played). I’ve no notion how he does in comparison to book Wentworth however he is by far the best film Wentworth I’ve met. (Don’t even get me started on a certain gentleman from another adaption. This is a discussion for another day. *wink*) The rest of the cast (with exception to Kennedy) is unknown to me, though everyone seems appropriately cast.
Best I can tell and from the little I’ve learned, this is a re-make of a re-make… if that makes any sense. The original is a Hitchcock classic, then there is an oldie 1959 film, all titled the same. What this version lacks in screen time, it makes up for in many other ways. For example, I expected a more serious spy story and instead saw a humorous almost charming little British film that I’ll definitely wish to see again. The adventure Richard and Lydia go on is exciting in unique ways, and I adored their banter. Their on-screen chemistry is some of my most favorite, simply because it’s “sweet” without being terribly sappy.
Those who have seen BBC films like The Lady Vanishes will definitely wish to look into picking up a copy of The 39 Steps. It’s all about the classic British spy caper, which is all “fun and games,” and then throws a loop into the perfect scenario by upsetting the balance of an otherwise perfect setup while careening towards a darling ending. But then, this wouldn’t be a proper British drama if there weren’t some questionable twists. Ambiguous or not, prepare to go on a fantastic adventure.