Adventure across 900 miles of escape and survival.
On the whole, a good chase thriller.
Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine strike a winning screen partnership in this chase thriller set in South Africa. However, the most memorable portrayal comes from Nicol Williamson (an oft-underrated actor who steals the show in virtually every film he's in), as a particularly unpleasant racist security agent. The film is set against a background of volatile race relations, but the political angle of the story isn't thrust forth too heavy-handedly. First and foremost, this is a chase story... and it's all the better for it.
Bantu activist Shack Twala (Sidney Poitier) is acquited of terrorism charges in a Cape Town court. He is on his way for a celebratory drink with his lawyer Rina (Prunella Gee) and her English boyfriend Jim Keogh (Michael Caine), when they are assaulted by two racist policemen. They turn the tables on the policemen and give them a pretty thorough beating. Twala and Keogh go on the run, hoping to reach Johannesburg where Twala has a contact who can get them out of the country. However, they are pursued all the way by the bigoted Major Horn (Nicol Williamson). Horn's ultimate plan is to let Twala unknowingly lead him to the hideout of a rebel leader named Wilby.
The Wilby Conspiracy is generally a good film. The acting is excellent throughout, and the film has an unexpected element of humour, with Caine and Poitier providing several dynamic exchanges. The script is sharp, with enough incidents and twists to stay a step ahead of the viewer, and an interesting central theme. There aren't many shortcomings in The Wilby Conspiracy, though that's not to say it is perfect. The ending seems rather fudged, and some of the plot developments don't quite ring true. (The bit where Saeed Jaffrey's pretty young dental assistant attempts a treacherous double-cross is a good example of an unlikely plot contrivance). However, on the whole this is a slick, well-made and absorbing movie.