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This film, apparently first produced for British television, is an adaptation of a novel by one of the very best thriller writers of all time: Gerald Seymour.  In fact, Mr. Seymour himself wrote the script.  It tells the story of a British salesman, Gavin Hughes, who knowingly supplies Iran with equipment that could be used for its weapons programs.  Caught by British security, he agrees to serve as a spy on the folks he was supplying.  But when a golden opportunity presents itself, information he supplied is used in a way that compromises his role and so he is given a new identity.  To his great distress, his wife refuses to go with him and she keeps their son.

Relocated and renamed, "Frank Perry" gradually rebuilds a life.  He meets a woman who has a son his own boy's age and they buy a house together.  Things are going swimmingly, but the Iranians remain intent on vengeance and, as it must, his identity becomes known to them.  They dispatch their best assassin, The Anvil, and a deadly game of cat-and-mouse begins.

As always in the work of Mr. Seymour, the great strength here is his ability to confront us with profound moral questions even as he entertains.  From security agents who are uncomfortable about how they've used Frank to Frank himself having to cope with how his information was used, it's a story that requires far more engagement and thought than the standard fare.  There's one minor weakness to the film--which it shares with all such stories--just as we're settling into the plot, Frank is uprooted and the story essentially begins over again.  This makes the middle of the film a tad slow, but it picks up nicely later.

On the plus side, it was released here with no apparent fanfare, so it's very likely to be in stock at Blockbuster this weekend when you're looking for something new to watch.  And it couldn't be more timely, what with the questions it raises about how far we're willing to go to prevent our enemies from developing weapons of mass destruction.  If not a great film, it's certainly worthwhile.

(Reviewed:11-Dec-02)

Grade: (B)

Websites:

See also:

Other reviews of recommended works by Gerald Seymour:
    -Archangel (1982)

Other recommended books by Gerald Seymour:
    -Harry's Game
    -Field of Blood (1985)
    -The Running Target (1990)
    -Condition Black (1991)
    -The Journeyman Tailor (1993)
    -The Fighting Man (1994)
    -At Close Quarters

WEBSITES:
    -Gerald Seymour: The Art of Danger
    -Gerald Seymour: Unofficial Web Page
    -INTERVIEW : Escape from the newsroom : Journalist turned thriller writer Gerald Seymour talks to Nicholas Wroe (September 15, 2001, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: Gerald Seymour (Bookends Magazine)
    -PROFILE: TV NEWSMAN'S TRANSITION TO NOVELS   (Herbert Mitgang, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Line in the Sand (Larry Woods, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of Line in the Sand Audio Version (Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. )
    -REVIEW: of A Line in the Sand by Gerald Seymour (Mat Coward, Tangled Web UK)
    -REVIEW: of DEAD GROUND (Tom Walker, Denver Post Book Editor)
    -REVIEW : of The Untouchable by Gerald Seymour (Bill Greenwell, Independent uk)
    -Edgar Awards:  awarded by the Mystery Writers of America

FILM:
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Gerald Seymour (Imdb.com)
    -INFO: A Line in the Sand (2001) (Imdb.com)
    -ARTICLE: ROSS IS BACK!!: EX-EASTENDERS hard man Ross Kemp is set to film a major new TV thriller on the Suffolk coast. (The Evening Star, March 2001)
    -FILM REVIEW: of The Informant: Nicholas Meyer's adaptation of Field of Blood

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