Tuesday, March 6, 2012

i SPY EUROSPY: Countdown to Doomsday

Countdown to Doomsday
Director: Marcello Baldi
Year 1966
Countdown to Doomsday is an overdramatically titled entry in the Eurospy cannon of films, that though misleading is one fine and entertaining example of the genre. Unlike the bombastic American title, the film is more grounded in reality, replacing the imagined scenario of the world ending with the threat of an oil company’s rig pegged for terroristic threats. Either way the end result is a blast to see play out.
With the images of doomsday aside, the film follows private eye/secret agent Jeff Milton, or Jeff Merlin as he was called in my copy of the movie, after he is hired to a kidnapping case. An unknown group has abducted an oil baron’s daughter in order to get a hefty ransom for an early retirement and the scared shitless father spares no expense on bringing the best man for the job on board. With a shit eating grin, Merlin explores the underbelly of Caracas in order to put the hurt on the kidnappers who coincidentally are mixed up in a drug ring that is also under surveillance by a small group of undercover agents. Eventually Merlin and the agents join forces in bringing down the bad guys, but can they save the beautiful young kidnapped woman before it’s too late? The countdown has begun.

The film stars George Ardisson in the role of Jeff Merlin. He’s a private eye who just so happens to do an amazing job in disguising himself as a secret agent. He does this so well, that you’d be hard pressed to even know that he was a lowly private investigator unless it was explained to you in the opening moments of the film. On screen he is a super agent through and through, going through all the clichés and visual cues that come with the title. Merlin is a pretty capable agent too, thanks to Ardisson’s athletic frame and the ability to deal out some pretty nasty death blows when pushed to the limit. There are moments when he almost comes off as incompetent at his job though, seeing that he is captured almost every time he has an encounter with a group of bad guys, forcing him to escape in some way shape or form. It makes for some thrilling moments, but ultimately you’ll find yourself yelling at the screen for Merlin to step his game up and stop falling into the hands of the enemy so easily. It’s still fun as all hell, because of the great Eurospy elements that come from his underachieving antics.
Of course we can’t have a film that follows the Eurospy formula so closely without having a number of beautiful women to fill up the screen. We have that in spades with this entry, but the real standout among the female cast of cuties is the character of Florence, played by the stunning Pascale Audret. She looks absolutely amazing in this film and you can see why Merlin takes a shine to her early on in the movie. Unfortunately her role, though substantial, is summed up as more of a damsel in distress situation where she is just included for Merlin to be able to come and save the day. It works in the film, but I just wish she had a more compelling role in the story and pulled off a few femme fatale moves alongside Merlin. Oh well, she does look amazing in the film and I’m just glad I was able to blindly stumble across just a portion of her filmography.

When it comes to action and espionage, Countdown to Doomsday has you covered. There’s a great deal of instances where we get to see spies being spies, like when undercover agent Alan Shepperton, played by Harald Leipnitz, is trying to figure out if the good Dr. Soarez is actually a double agent working for the other team. His ingenious set up of the doctor and the perfect reveal of his allegiance is a thrill to see play out and to top it all off, it’s smartly acted and masterfully done.
The action is also another aspect of the film that stands out. George Ardisson showcases some pretty nifty moves during the plethora of his fight scenes and each one is as entertaining as the next. He truly comes off as deadly and dangerous, after we’re witness to him chocking the life out of a man while driving a car and harpooning another guy through the heart. The guy is pretty badass when he isn’t getting himself caught. Ardisson is definitely a man to look out for in the spy genre and I’m going to make it a priority to hunt down the rest of his efforts. When it comes to Countdown to Doomsday, it looks to be a pretty good representation on what Ardisson can bring to the genre and I’m highly optimistic about his other roles. 

Countdown to Doomsday is a perfect example of the genre, having all the essential elements that make a Eurospy a Eurospy. George Ardisson as the butt-kicking agent type character Jeff Merlin, is a great addition to the historic number of secret agents that have graced the genre. His demeanor is unique and his character is void of cocky one-liners and smart ass remarks, which is a refreshing change of pace for films of this ilk. Pascale Audret is also a significant asset to the enjoyability of this flick, looking absolutely ravishing in her role that is unfortunately used for nothing more then a springboard into showcasing Ardisson’s athletic skill and prowess.
From its action set pieces to its espionage filled moments, Countdown to Doomsday is a great example of the genre of Eurospy, giving us all the elements of this fantastic subject of cinematic wonders to satisfy any lover of this twisted spy subgenre. Doomsday it may not be, but it sure is an entertaining……

The names Merlin... and yes... I'm Magical.

So what are you wearing? A towel? Sexy!

I think Merlin gets the point.

Pretty hot under these lights? Huh Seinfeld?

Nobody points a gun at the lovely Florence. Merlin where are you?!?!

Alright... Now do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around.

Well hello there hot stuff.

You're really dreamy Merlin.

So what are you wearing? A plaid shirt? Sexy!

And he's down for the count!

Young lady! Did you just grab my buttocks?

Get up you big cry baby.

Tragedy suddenly struck when Merlin dropped his ice cream cone.

You disgust me! When was the last time you cleaned your ears out?

Alright, kidney.... lower pocket.

The perfect cliched ending. Love it!


  1. How did you get to see this? Is it on DVD or a streaming website?

    1. I believe I got my copy from The Wild Eye Eurospy Forum. There's also a copy floating around on Ioffer.com, but I'd go for the one on the Eurospy forum. They always have top notch fansubs.

  2. Bought it. George reminds me of Daniel Craig in style and appearance. Very good in this film.