Haskell (Michael Caine) is assigned a job by his boss, the aristocratic Landon-Higgins (James Fox), to highjack a high security van in broad daylight while it’s in the shadow run (out of radio contact with the main security firm). He assembles a team to carry out the heist, but things don’t go according to plan and Haskell begins to think his boss might be double crossing him. Add to this, a teenage boarding school pupil has already witnessed some of the meetings of the team and Haskell’s in real trouble.
In 1879, the British suffer a great loss at the Battle of Isandlwana due to incompetent leadership. Cy Endfield co-wrote the epic prequel Zulu Dawn 15 years after his enormously popular Zulu. Set in 1879, this film depicts the catastrophic Battle of Isandhlwana, which remains the worst defeat of the British army by natives, with the British contingent outnumbered 16-to-1 by the Zulu tribesmen. The film’s opinion of events is made immediately clear in its title sequence: ebullient African village life presided over by King Cetshwayo is contrasted with aristocratic artifice under the arrogant eye of General Lord Chelmsford (Peter O’Toole). Chelmsford is at the heart of all that goes wrong, initiating the catastrophic battle with an ultimatum made seemingly for the sake of giving his troops something to do. His detached manner leads to one mistake after another.
Sylvia’s work increasingly takes her away from the three men who help bring up Mary, her daughter. When she decides to move to England and take Mary with her, the three men are heartbroken at losing the two most important females in their lives.