Sam Peckinpah uses violence, implied and actual, as a plot can-opener. Physicist David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) moves to rural England with his British wife Amy (Susan George). Brooding, cerebral David would prefer to study stars but instead confronted with abusive construction workers who heckle his wife.
Peckinpah adores bringing these ingredients to a boil: weak men, cruel strangers, civility pushed to the brink and ripped apart. No mystery the rest of the way: David snaps, intellectual veneer collapses; it’s kill or be killed. The climax is orgiastic, grotesque, and too-often gratuitous. But that’s Peckinpah. In David Sumner, he transforms an intellectual pacifist into an irrational torturer to prove the two coexist. Disturbing.