Thursday, May 29, 2008

Man On the Run: 3 Days of the Condor

A very solid, but flawed film by master director Sydney Pollack about the CIA. Robert Redford stars as Joseph Turner (aka The Condor), a CIA worker who reads books and feeds the plots into a computer, which compares the fiction to real CIA cases. Sounds interesting, but if you're expecting a brainy film about books and the Central Intelligence Agency, then this movie will leave you hanging. Anyways, Turner leaves the office to pick up lunch and returns to find that his co-workers have been murdered. The murders were committed by a mysterious man (Max Von Sydow) and two others. This causes the Condor to panic. When he calls his station chief, Higgins (Cliff Robertson), things start to get weird. This involves a scene in an alley in which he is nearly gunned down by some guy he doesn't know from the CIA. This whole set of scenes reminded me much the decent movie F/X, another law crisis/man on the run movie. Another similarity: this experience makes the lead go on a rampage. Unlike F/X, the main character kidnaps a photographer (Faye Dunaway) whose photos are great, but that doesn't really matter. All these scenes between Redford and Dunaway are not very good, and Dunaway's acting seems to have suffered since her amazing turn in Chinatown, which only came out a year before. Anyways, the Condor basically makes her life hell (at least for the first couple of hours he is with her), seduces her (in an all-too-artsy scene), and gets her to help him. Unfortunately, Dunaway also spurts the stupidest line in the movie, something about being an "old spyf*****". What the hell is that? That is almost as bad as "testicle tag team". This movie doesn't deserve that line. Anyways, this plot is really implausible, as it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I don't need to tell you what happens next. There is nothing to spoil, except for an idiotic final scene that seems like it needs a Redford one-liner, but he doesn't deliver it, and it makes the movie feel incomplete. Bottom line: this is a good Pollack movie, but it seems kind of odd that I had to complain about bad writing in one of his movies. At least he improved 7 years later in 1982's Tootsie. But that's a different picture. Tootsie is great, and this just doesn't compete. Not just with Tootsie, but with other spy movies. B

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