Picks and Pans Review: Cuba

updated 01/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

What starts as an intriguing story about love and politics in pre-Castro Cuba quickly bogs down in a tedious, cliché-ridden muddle. Sean Connery plays a soldier of fortune hired to help rid the island of Fidel's guerrillas. Brooke Adams, his onetime lover now married into the Cuban oligarchy, is unhappy because her husband, Chris Sarandon, is a philanderer. Sean soon distracts her from that problem. Then as the Batista regime crumbles he tries to get her out of Cuba. At this point the movie begins to resemble a James Bond thriller with tank fights and other pyrotechnics. Director Richard Lester's customary sure touch lapses into moralizing. Castro's troops are portrayed as saints, while Batista's are all nincompoops and worse. The photography by David Watkin is superb—the movie was shot in Spain, and it's lushly beautiful. And there are two fine supporting performances. Denholm Elliott plays a British gunrunner with a lovely mix of cynicism and swagger, and Lonette McKee is convincingly sluttish as a factory worker. The rest of the movie would qualify it as the worst ever about Cuba if Omar Sharif's Che! hadn't been there first. (R)

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