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Three Days of the Condor

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Three Days of the Condor

Starring: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway
Director: Sydney Pollack
Rated: R
RunTime: 117 Minutes
Release Date: October 1975
Genres: Action, Classic, Suspense

*Also starring: Cliff Robertson, Max Von Sydow, John Houseman, Addison Powell, Walter McGinn, Carlin Glynn

Review by Dragan Antulov
2 stars out of 4

One of the most immediate consequences of the social turmoil in 1960s was the global loss of faith towards the institutions of government. For the Americans, feeling of mistrust into their government, born out of traumatic events of Kennedy assassination, finally peaked immediately after Watergate and turned into full-blown paranoia. The unpleasant discovery of government's tendencies to use their all- powerful resources against helpless and innocent citizens for some hidden agenda caused a lot of anxiety. Such anxiety influenced Hollywood too, who launched a whole series of political thrillers about government conspiracies. The trend, with THE PARALLAX VIEW and ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN as the brightest example, was very popular for a while, but then the audience gradually got tired of complicated plots dealing with arcane political intrigues and subtle yet deadly techniques of manipulation and control. However, while the trend lasted, it produced some films that, although hardly masterpieces, look superior to today's attempts to resurrect sub-genre of paranoia. Nice example is THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, interesting 1975 thriller by director Sydney Pollack.

The movie begins in the New York office that serves as a front for the research division of CIA, specialised in reading and analysing books, comics and similar material. One of those researches is mild-manneredTurner (Robert Redford), who goes out to buy lunch only to see all of his colleagues brutally murdered upon return. In the state of shock and afraid for his life, Turner contacts his superiors, but the rendezvous intended to lead to his debriefing ends with shooting. Barely escaping alive, Turner is now convinced that someone within the CIA wants him dead, probably the same person who ordered the massacre. Forced to go underground, Turner kidnaps Kathy (Fay Dunaway), beautiful lady photographer, in order to hide in her apartment and figure out what is really going on.

The script by talented Lorenzo Semple Jr. (who wrote, among the others, paranoia classic THE PARALAX VIEW), was very good in bringing the atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust to the screen. Unfortunately, director Sidney Pollack, who earned a lot of respect working on entirely different types of movies (melodramas and comedies), took the dark overtones too seriously - the camera in film is simply too dark, and the viewer must pay a lot of attention in order to find out what is really going on. Pollack, on the other hand, used some very subtle but effective techniques to depict violence - something often ignored in today's cinemas. The characters are well-drawn and played by stellar cast. Robert Redford is adequate for the role, although his presence might seem too charismatic for a ordinary CIA analyst caught in a life and death situation. Fay Dunaway was much better in a rather thankless role whose impact was undermined with unnecessary romance. Max von Sydow was very effective as creepy but cultivated professional killer with personal code of honour, same as always reliable Cliff Robertson as Turner's cynical boss. Despite some flaws, and despite the lack of clarity in some segments, the plot seems realistic and plausible. At the finale, however, this movie loses a lot of impact due to the moralistic diatribe that came out of thin air. But, all things considered, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR might pass as both entertaining and very intelligent thriller.

Copyright 1998 Dragan Antulov

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