RAGE. Warner Brothers, 1972. George C. Scott, Richard Basehart, Martin Sheen, Barnard Hughes, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Walden, Dabbs Greer. Director: George C. Scott.

   Both starring and directed by George S. Scott (his directorial debut), Rage is an uneven thriller about a man at his wits’ end. Scott portrays Dan Logan, a widowed Wyoming rancher raising his young son as best he can. After a night spent outside camping, Logan wakes up to find both his son and his sheep extremely ill. Although the viewer soon learns that Logan’s son was accidentally poisoned by a military chemical weapons project gone wrong, Logan himself is kept in the dark as to what is afflicting his son.

   It seems as though no one can be trusted, a hallmark of the paranoid, political thrillers which were commercially released in the late 1960s and early 1970s. No one except Logan’s personal physician (Richard Basehart) who, truth be told, doesn’t prove particularly useful when Logan needs him the most.

   After Logan learns not only that his son has died, but also that the military and the public health service are doing their best to cover up what transpired, he begins a course of action which is supposed to be the ‘rage’ part of the film. Unfortunately, there’s just not that much rage and, for the most part, Logan ends up targeting people who really didn’t have much directly to do with his son’s death.

   Instead of targeting the hospital staff, including one young physician (Martin Sheen) who repeatedly manipulated him and lied to his face, Logan kills a cat owned by the local public health official, targets the chemical manufacturer for destruction, sets a cop on fire, and shoots an MP at an Army base.

   To be sure, Logan is at war and there are always casualties of war. But the more Logan’s rampage continues, the less sympathetic a character he becomes. Maybe that was the filmmaker’s whole point: that no one is innocent and that righteous rage has the capacity to consume an individual. If that was the case, it just doesn’t gel correctly in this particular movie. Or maybe the film is about the futility of rage in the face of the military-industrial complex.

   When all’s said and done, you might expect that a movie entitled Rage would have just a bit more of it. Scott’s portrayal of Logan is less of a man burning up with rage than a man who, despite being sickened by the same chemical weapon that killed his son, acts rather calmly and methodically. And when it eventually becomes clear how very little revenge ends up being inflicted upon the wrongdoers, it leaves the viewer wondering what the point of the whole proceedings was meant to be.