The Amateur (1981) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
23 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
James Bond it's not
Rogue Wolf1 August 2003
I found The Amateur to be thoroughly entertaining for the very reason some viewers may not like it. This is not a slick, gadget laden action flick. The hero is a very human, run of the mill intelligence analyst (not a super spy) whose determined to avenge the death of his love interest by terrorists. Truth be told, I think this is much closer to reality than most movies of this genre. If this film were released on video I believe it could easily become a cult classic. I would certainly buy it on DVD or video if it were available. Oh and by the way, even though it's not James Bond it does have some pretty interesting action sequences.
22 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a beginning that parallels the recent American executions
sattymaster29 December 2006
The story is that of mystery and action. Its beginning minutes include an ordinary man seeing the broadcast of an American woman being held hostage in a foreign country. The woman is executed in broad daylight. This woman is his mate. How would you feel? What would you do? The movie focuses on the reaction of such an event by a normal guy. First there is confusion followed by deep conflict in determining the resolve. Much like it would be in today's world, an ordinary man with a small flame can kindle it into an emotionally fiery rage to react. The challenges in this venture are not glorified or unbelievable feats and therefore the viewer can achieve a state of reality and belief. Having several personal intimate experiences with our Government to include within its employ, and having lived and worked in foreign countries as well, I find it real easy to dismiss the few negative feedback remarks on this film as being authored in ignorance or being naive. I do love my country but is everyone an Angel within its employ? no way.... Would the Government refuse to negotiate publicly with terrorist yet negotiate amongst themselves? absolutely.... If you have a military background, specialized training or even just been an outdoors person you may also identify with a lot of the physical activity in this film. The story is even more interesting now over two decades later after its making, having a beginning that parallels the recent American executions video-taped and published by Al-Qaeda early this 21st century. This movie is by far one of John Savage's greatest performances. Savage delivers a stellar performance in this picture. This is a great film and one of best of the less known adventure films in existence today. If you get the chance to sit and watch this movie from start to finish, you will be entertained- try to see this one.
9 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Wonderful twist in the plot line, showing that anything is possible
kc7tzp1 November 2004
This movie has been and will remain a favorite for many years to come. I loved how the plot leads you to the correct conclusion with all the subtle hints dropped throughout the movie, and was pleased by the "justice was served" ending. As he seeks the answers to why the CIA doesn't follow up on the killing, it is interesting to note that even though they gave him training and supplied him with the weaponry, he was a target, just the same.

As for the final outcome and the ending, it was interesting to find out just exactly who knew what about the whole affair. All in all, it was a really entertaining movie that I do and will recommend everyone seeing, being sure it will stir up the brain's capabilities to understand the subtle nuances in life.
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent Unstylized Thriller
Enrique-Sanchez-5617 February 2007
This is the movie that introduced me to international intrigue. For this, I owe it many things. It paved the way for me to appreciate several important historical points that have served me well in the ensuing years of my education.

What attracted me to this movie was the aspect of a complete amateur being caught up in the world of terrorism. His utter frustration is handled and eventual involvement is treated, without a lot of glitzy, unnecessary gadgets or gratuitous or cartoonish (and unbelievable) violence.

No, nothing of that is experienced in this movie. And thank goodness for that. The grittiness is real. There are no cardboard characters like Matt Damon and Tom Cruise battling European forces of evil. You feel for JOHN SAVAGE and his life. You care for him and his feel his frustrations and his victories.

Yes, this is intrigue at its most real depiction (within the framework of a commercial movie.) Human life is important, cherished and defended. You will come from this experience with the idea of what a more realistic exposition of events can be.

I recommend anyone who still loves intrigue done without a lot of CGI junk thrown in.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Spy story about a vendetta behind the Iron Curtain full of plot twists and thrills
ma-cortes22 May 2009
This spy/action/thriller concerns about a CIA computer analyst named Heller(John Savage) , when his girlfriend encounters traveling across Europe, she's suddenly kidnapped in an Embassy by a terrorist group , a Baader Mainhoff-alike, and is shot by the leader named Brewer (Nicholas Campbell). Then Heller seeks vengeance, and contacts to girlfriend's father(Jan Rubes). Later obligates his CIA superiors(Arthur Hill,George Coe), under threat blackmail(to publish it a journalist played by John Marley) , for becoming CIA camp agent trained by a veteran(Ed Lauter) and to send him to the Communist Bloc countries . In Czechoslovakia he unites forces to Cia agent(Marthe Keller) and is pursued by a contra-espionage chief(Christopher Plummer) in Praga. Meanwhile Heller investigates and aware a cobweb of lies underneath the company.

This exciting film gets tension, suspense, action ,mystery and a bit of violence, however sometimes in a little confused and embarrassing . Mediocre screenplay with some gaps by Robert Littell and based on his novel. The movie belongs to ¨Cold war genre¨ , whose maxim height were the John Le Carre novels and his various cinematic adaptations such as ¨The spy who came in freeze, The Kremlin letter and Russia House¨.Suspenseful musical score and colorful cinematography filmed in streets of Vienna(lookalike Praga) and interior scenarios shot in Canadian studios. The movie was a flop though is today better considered, in fact Leonard Matlin rated it as 'Bomb'. The motion picture is professionally directed by Charles Jarrot. He has an eclectic career as TV as cinema with a plethora of success(Anne of the thousands days, Mary of Scots) and failures at the box office(Condorman, Last flight of Noah's Ark, Amateur). Rating : Passable and acceptable.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Very Good Action/Thriller for its time
rondine11 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, this is a movie, JUST a movie. I truly feel it was not meant to be a comment or criticism of the CIA or America. Please... reviews should be about the movie, not someone's political agenda OUTside of the movie.

Heller's girlfriend is taken hostage & killed at the beginning of the movie by terrorists from an eastern block country (sorry, can't remember which). After meeting with her father, a Holocaust survivor, he is the one that tells him that vengeance may not bring her back from the dead, but it may bring HIM back. Heller (John Savage) works for the CIA doing ciphers. He asks them to go over there & assassinate the terrorists. When they refuse, he uses his knowledge & clearance to actually blackmail the CIA into letting him go over there himself. They are appalled, but they agree, thinking that they can find the blackmail documents before he gets through training & gets over there. From there the movie goes into the main plot of how he attempts to make this all work.

The direction and pacing is fine... it's only slow if you are a 90's junkie that needs explosions and t&a every 15 mins. It's a story, a good one. The supporting roles are very well filled out by the likes of Marte Keller, Arthur Hill, Ed Lauter, and Jan Rubes. John Savage gives a very sensitive and believably vulnerable performance. As for him being wood-like (per another reviewer) the scene where he receives his girlfriend's last mailed "taped" letter to him is heart-wrenching. These are the kind of details that set up the credibility that this man would be so determined to revenge his girlfriend's death. Important stuff. This is a good movie, just enjoy it & stop saying to yourself, well, but what about _____? just go with the flow & you'll be very entertained.

Another movie I recommend that is a good thriller that came out 2 years later is Enigma w/Martin Sheen.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An Excellent Cold War Thriller
greene51517 March 2011
John Savage plays 'The Amateur' of the title a CIA code scrambler who convinces his superiors to send him to the eastern bloc in order to avenge the murder of his Girlfriend by terrorists, Savage Uncovers a web of deception whilst in the Eastern Bloc, Marthe Keller costars in her typical role as a seductively mysterious German, Christopher Plummer is an intellectual lecturer who is also involved. Genre favorite and the incredibly underrated Ed Lauter also appears. the cipher would of been a much better title than 'The Amateur' other than that it is an entertaining film packed with lots of action and twists and turns.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
About Revenge
roedyg21 October 2006
This movie explores revenge, why, the morality, the effects, so it is somewhat deeper than your usual simple blood revenge flic.

The movie starts out portraying the CIA as a bunch of boy scouts. I said to myself "Get real". However, as the layers of the onion peel off, a much darker picture emerges. I won't spoil the surprises.

The movie has a very relaxed pace by modern standards.

Nicholas Campbell plays a terrorist. You only get to see him for brief glimpses. His astounding good looks are distracting. It is hard to whip up fear or hate for someone so startlingly handsome.

The movie keeps you guessing who is behind the relentless legions out to kill our naive hero. His endless narrow escapes from a variety of enemies severely stretch credulity. After all, before this began, he had never even held a gun.

I really enjoyed the setting, Prague, including the beautiful warm cozy interiors. Exotic settings are a third of my enjoyment from the genre.

Much of the dialog is not in English. There are no subtitles. This is an artistic device, since the hero has only shaky knowledge of languages other than English. It makes you see things from his point of view.

The scene where the hero dispatches the female terrorist is shocking, even by today's gruesome standards, with much the effect the piano wire assassination had way back in From Russia With Love.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Interagency disputes of the CIA. (spoilers)
vertigo_147 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This isn't anti-American nonsense, despite the protest of one viewer. Why would it be outrageous to assume that this is indeed how the CIA operates at times? Siding secretly with certain members staging terrorist threats in order to advance a policy agenda? Maybe it doesn't occur exactly as displayed in the sometimes confusing and poorly paced 'The Amateur', but if recent films like 'Syriana', which are based on the documented experiences of agency insiders, then it is not entirely impossible. In fact, such movies should've done a better job of shattering the ultra-patriotic myths that, at least within the vocal majority, define the perceptions of America.

This is the story of a CIA agent who's wife was a hostage in a terrorist invasion in Munich. She was killed and he's not sure exactly how to move on until a friend, a Holocaust survivor, had told his own story of how he tracked down the doctor in the death camps who gassed his family and strangled him. The idiot agent, however, decides to ask for official permission to personally avenge the terrorists that murdered his wife. A ciphering expert, he blackmails the agency with evidence of their own foreign foul play which in turn, can be leaked to the public. But, the terrorists are not exactly who they seem to be, and his travels in Czechoslovakia, tracking them down, soon turn deadly when he is chased around by other agents looking to kill him.

The problem with a lot of political espionage films is that they tend to involve too many characters who are introduced into an already complex plot of treason and dispute. Their placement in the story is often explained long after their introduction, as are their names, and further make things difficult for the viewer to sort out in his head as the events pass. Moreover, a good deal of the beginning of this film, setting the ground work for what the agent wants to do, is played out with such slow pacing, none of the action really seems to come about until the later half of the second act.

I suspect this one was based on a true story, judging by the words summing up the post-film fate of the characters.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Half what it could have been.
cableaddict7 January 2004
This movie is along the lines of "Gorky Park," "The Macintosh Man" and "The Spy Who Came In from The Cold." That is, it's a dark, cerebral spy flick. I happen to love this type of movie. However, "The Amateur" pales in comparison to the others mentioned.

It could have been remarkable. The basic concept is strong, and several scenes are excellent. However, much of the dialog and editing are plodding, awkward, and slow.

Additionally, John Savage is one of the most wooden actors ever to find work in Hollywood. How anyone could have cast him in this role is beyond my comprehension. Keanu Reeves is positively Shakesperian by comparison.

I can only imagine how good this film might have been with a little quicker editing, and, say, a young Paul Newman in the lead role.

Still, if you're a fan of the genre, and can stay seated through the boring scenes, this is not a bad movie. -just far from a great one.
10 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good Czechs? Check! Bad Czechs? Check!
manuel-pestalozzi8 February 2008
I have never been to the Czech Republic yet, but I hope that some day I will make it. This movie will certainly not influence my decision – but Czechs might like to watch it. Will they recognize their own country? I doubt it.

Basically this is a vigilante movie. Some terrorists (not oriental Muslims for once but German home grown nut cases) storm the American consulate in Munich, take all people hostage and ask for the release of some of their comrades. Otherwise they will kill a hostage every, say, half hour. For good measure they kill a young woman right after formulating their demands. As fate would have it, it's the fiancée of a CIA ciphers specialist who decides that he wants to go after the killers (who got away) and kill them in turn, cost it what it may.

The terrorist's area for occasional relaxation and training sessions is the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia. So our hero has to go there and forces his employer to help him. Once there he discovers that they don't like him at the CIA and are after his hide. But among bad to brutish Czechs he finds good Czechs who will gladly risk their lives so that he can fulfill his (perfectly understandable) dreams of revenge.

Very often this movie is outright ridiculous. But there are a few very good and excellently filmed scenes. The highlight for me is the young yet very bald terrorist who takes a swim in a luxurious old Czech hotel, all on his own, only to get blown up by our hero with the help of plastics taped to the glass pane which separates the pool from the bar. The acting is so so but Christopher Plummer is simply brilliant as the sophisticated bad Czech. There seem to be no limits for this wonderful actor, he really is extremely versatile. The Czech outdoor scenes were partly filmed in Vienna, there are also a few great shots of 19th century Munich.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A story with just too many coincidences, but superb settings !!!
VanheesBenoit13 May 2008
A leftist terror group erupts into the US Consulate in München, and takes a number of hostages, including Americans. The hardboiled team demands the immediate release of a number of fellow terrorist, otherwise the US hostages will be shot dead at a rate of one per hour. A "post Münich '72" discussion takes place between German and US spokesmen to determine what to do. As the terrorists' demands aren't met within the imposed deadline, one of the hostages gets executed in cold blood. The young woman who got shot dead was the girlfriend of a CIA computer specialist. But at the same time -strange coincidence- , the killer too is working for the CIA, and has infiltrated the terrorist cell. The boyfriend of the executed girl -although an "egghead" or CIA bureaucrat- wants to avenge her death by killing systematically all the members of the cell. He learns that they are hiding in Easter Europe. As the CIA doesn't seem to be inclined to help him, he uses some arm twisting techniques to force the Director of Central Intelligence to change his stance...

The film certainly isn't bad, but at the same time I couldn't call it fantastic either. Therefor, the story is built on just too much coincidences and unlikely events. Also, the idea of the non-experienced CIA man managing to do unlikely things, exactly because he's no trained and therefor predictable field agent has been treated in a much more convincing way in "Three Days of the Condor".

Christopher Plummer was doing a relatively nice job as Professor Lakos, but on the whole, I found the actors too neither sensational, neither incredibly bad. Same thing for the OST. That is -to me at least- the weak point of the movie: it is in almost all its aspects "just average", nothing more, nothing less.

The strongest side of the movie is the excellent choice of locations. The chosen Austrian landscapes, and a few Skoda's here and really give the impression the movie has been shot somewhere in Eastern Europe.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
And justice for all...
ajpb1 January 2007
This movie came out at the time when the Iran hostage situation had ended. The message is very simple: One has to put off a fire with a fire. The only thing that terrorists can understand is their own language of terror. Being civil to terrorists is similar to trying to convert Hitler to becoming a Jew! This is a great entertaining movie, and perhaps what is left with you for a long time is the coldness and cruelty of how Sarah is shot in the head - an innocent soul who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. And Sarah's look just before she is shot speaks volume for the helplessness it presents in front of evil (like those of Islamists).
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
OK spy drama with John Savage...
dwpollar12 May 2007
1st watched 5/12/2007 - 4 out of 10(Dir-Charles Jarrott): OK spy drama with John Savage; who typically plays supporting characters; in the lead role. The movie starts with his significant other getting killed by what he thinks is a terrorist after they hold-up hostages in an American embassy in Germany asking for a couple of their cohorts to be released from prison. They plan to kill a hostage every 15 minutes until their demands are met and Savage's wife or girlfriend happens to be the first one and is shot, and then mysteriously the demands are then met. This "strangeness" is not explored much in the movie, but we find out why this happened in the last fifteen minutes. The focus is on Savage's character, who then blackmails the CIA, whom he works for as a code specialist(a kind of geeky position in the company), so they have to train him to hunt down the terrorists and he can have his sweet revenge. The CIA doesn't want this to happen and tries to stop him before he accomplishes his task. So, he's basically working on his own as an "Amateur" trying to hunt down these people, thus the title. Savage is OK in the lead, and the story keeps your interest but he doesn't have the charisma to carry a lead role -- especially one that requires a wide range of emotions like this one. The supporting cast is not very good or convincing and the plot seems to leave out things that could have fleshed-out the characters more so we could understand their plight and care for them more deeply. I don't particularly understand why this was done except that the director thought the actors couldn't pull it off or the studio wanted a shorter movie, but this kind of leaves the movie incomplete and makes for only a OK experience where it could have been much more.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
1970's Counter-Intelligence
abraham-859-4994175 March 2020
1970's. Peak of the Cold War. When communism and socialism were considered a cancer by the United States.

CIA is undercover in former East Germany. Hans Schraeger carries out orders "according to plan." BUT, the casualty by chance is the fiance' of an idealistic, Edward Snowden-like braniac at CIA.

The rest is a train wreck.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Savage Revenge
darbski21 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I know that a lot of the reviews are not complementary. The protagonist isn't a major star, he's not strikingly handsome, not well known, even in supporting roles. I believe that these are the main reasons the movie didn't get great credit. John Savage is a very good actor, but not spectacular; he's a low-key cameo and supporting type. However, in this movie, and in another ("Inside Moves"), he is outstanding. Why? For the reasons I just gave.

He is everyman, stuck in a place where he has to choose to do what he thinks is right. And those choices are very difficult. Savage plays this type to perfection. Taking what is dished out, and trying to struggle through. The settings in this show are really cool; "Third Man" type towns and neighborhoods where the genre thrives. The parts are developed to the necessary point, and the action is slow (if you're looking for Chuck Norris stuff, don't bother), but steady, with the hits spiking the inexorable pressure of the plot.

I know I haven't told you very much about the content, save the basic design, but, see it for yourself, and decide how you'd feel, and what you'd do. Then put yourself in those really cool spy-ish settings and see what you think for yourself.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Surprised by the so so reviews...
tjirish3422 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I always thought this was a good spy film. It's not a big budget film. Maybe the lackluster reviews are because of the story arc painting the USA gov't in a bad light. I will say SPOILER ALERT I AM GIVING AWAY MAIN PLOT POINTS HERE BELOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED SO Don't Whine. Don't read below: ################################################################# Savage works for CIA in a non spy boring job. His wife happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and is part of a terrorist hostage taking operation. The terrorists make demands and threaten to kill hostages. Officials balk and try to negotiate. They bring out a hostage (savage wife) on TV. Terrorist kills his wife and Savage see's it on live TV. Officials give into demands and terrorists fly off to Eastern Europe during Cold war. Savage is told nothing CIA can do as they are protected in Eastern Europe. Savage is not buying it and as a cryptographer he gets hold of embarrassing CIA files and basically black mails the CIA to send him to the FARM and be trained as a field agent. Behind the scenes CIA is trying to track down the black mailed files which Savage has hidden and also given to a reporter friend for protection. Savage gets his mission for revenge. The CIA tracks and cuts a deal with the reporter for the files. Not knowing Savage has a copy hidden. Right after he crosses border CIA tries to hunt Savage to kill him now that Savage has lost his leverage. Meanwhile Savage tracks down the terrorists... I will stop here and say that the following plot point ends up making the US gov't CIA look badly while the Soviet KGB officer in film comes out looking good.

I think this is a good spy film. In fact it was a small film and a lot of it's plot you can see in other future films. The Bourne films with Matt Damon have some of this film in them. As do other's. A lot of Hollywood big films take small films like this film's plot points and use the idea's for larger films knowing the general public may not have seen it. TOO bad a remake wasn't made as alleged on the board. The main plot points would make an interesting updated film. Contrary to a reviewer about Czech footage. Since this is cold war it should look bleak. In fact I am going to re watch this film.----------- TJH
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Slow Moving, But alright nonetheless
DarkKnight5510 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
By today's standards it seems that every film must have action and unbelievable stunt work sequences every few moments to maintain the audience's attention span. That being said, if that's what you're looking for then you will be disappointed in this film. I, on the other hand, found this film to be fairly good. It's about a CIA operative who works as a cryptologist who's girlfriend is murdered by terrorists. He seeks revenge on the terrorists after being refused by his superiors for the company to take any action to bring the terrorists to justice and manages to come up with some incriminating evidence that the CIA denied having. He then uses the evidence to blackmail his superiors into training him for the mission. He discovers that the terrorists are in Czechoslovakia and of course, his hiding place for the evidence is found by the CIA after he's in Czech territory and before you know it he's trying to dodge both the Czech soldiers and the CIA agents out to silence him once and for all, with a surprising twist at the climax of the film. John Savage does a fairly good job in the title role and Christopher Plummer is a convincingly likable Communist baddie. As I said, if it's action you like then don't bother. But for a more slow paced and realistic film then you may enjoy this.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't Bother
syncomm1 December 2006
It requires a complete suspension of disbelief for the viewer to engage in the baffling circus of events that make up the groaning plot of this film. Savage is a CIA cryptanalyst who upon the murder of his girlfriend in Munich decides to blackmail his employer into allowing him to carry out a reckless revenge plot in Czechoslovakia with a .45 and some plastic explosives. The government, who refuses to negotiate with the terrorists for his girlfriend's life at the beginning of the film, rolls over with hardly a grumble to Savage's demands and simply trains him for his "mission." Once he has received a good day or two of training, he eloquently tells them he is done -- he "would flunk out anyway" by golly. So without hesitation they send him into the abyss, because... well he told 'em to. Mr. Bean, or Inspector Clueso, would have been less obtrusive than the snaggly brown toothed "amateur" spy carrying out this spoiled-boy spree of hapless chaos. He spends nearly every scene (literally) running through the streets of eastern Europe and -shouting- corny English expressions to his equally incompetent female associate. He couldn't stand out more if he had CIA written in red paint on his face. You will be hard pressed to remain awake for the action, but that is okay because there simply isn't much of it to be had. What started as an interesting premise, logic aside, turns into a dreary romp that gets more boring with each turn. If you survive to the end you will be equally baffled by the inept and abrupt conclusion. I'm certain Lindsy Lohan has written better scripts than this on her blackberry after imbibing several bottles of raspberry Vodka. Don't waste your time.
2 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Typical Anti-American NONSENSE
Hugh598 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Typical freaking Hollywood anti-American nonsense! This movie takes place back when you had terrorist gangs from East Germany infiltrating into the West, robbing banks and killing business executives, then skipping back into the East. The movie deals with a botched CIA effort to infiltrate one of these terrorist groups which causes an innocent American civilian to get killed. The movie makes the CIA into the villain and actually has the KGB chief in East Germany (the guy controlling the murderous terrorists) as a sympathetic character. Well TICKLE ME HARD WITH A CHAINSAW!

I WANT the CIA to have teams of assassins going around looking for fluking Al Qaeda operatives. If Bill Clinton had not been such a wimp(if he had REALLY believed that the USA was right to fight terrorists), he would have had Osama Bin Laden assassinated in the late 90s. Clinton missed SIX opportunities to kill Bin a result, 3,000 Americans died.

This is the same stupidity behind the remake of THE BOURNE IDENTITY. During a time when the country is at war, take a book in which the CIA represents the good guys and turn them into the bad guys! I spit at Hollywood!
3 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What a waste!
wludwig22 January 2007
Those who gave this film 5 and above are being kind. Up until the assassination of the hostage, there was promise. Then John Savage entered the plot. Has there ever been a John Savage movie that was any good? Completely unbelievable plot and curiously non-suspenseful. By the way, there are no goofs listed, but check out the scene where our hero is in the store. He is holding a can of something and a newspaper until he sees the magazines. Then his items disappear. Arthur Hill is not a convincing CIA boss; he is too fatherly looking and sounding. Time has not been kind to the print, either. It is very grainy and old-looking, even for an 80s film.
1 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Some good things, but doesn't work overall
Wizard-810 August 2011
I read the original novel this movie is based on before watching the movie, and I really enjoyed it. My hopes were up for this movie because the writer of the novel was also one of the screenwriters. Unfortunately, I felt kind of let down at the end.

The movie has some good attributes. For a Canadian movie, most of the production values are pretty good. There are also some tense and effective moments, the highlight being the swimming pool sequence. Also, Christopher Plummer gives an effective performance in his supporting role.

But as I said in my summary line, the movie doesn't work overall. The main problem with this movie is its pacing. You have to wait until the 50 minute mark before the hero gets into Czechoslovakia and starts his plan of revenge. After that point, you have to wait a long time before he scratches the first person off his target list. I was not demanding an unbelievably fast pace, but things definitely could have been tightened a bit.

Other faults in the movie include the photography (the colors look muddy for the most part), and that the idea of the movie - someone taking on a task that's clearly over his head - didn't come across.

This is far from the worst movie ever made, but it's still disappointing. As of this date, they are working on a remake of this movie. While I usually think remakes are unnecessary, in this case I think there's definitely room for improvement. However, since European politics have changed radically since this movie was made, they'll have to make some big changes for a 21 century audience.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Weak for the genre
ERJD606575 March 2007
Fun, but often not believable. The opening act (of terrorism) is captivating. Christopher Plummer's portrayal as the Czech detective is a pleasure. But in the end, the film gets a little too ahead of itself. It would have been better toned down and with a few twists snipped out.

For a realistic look at what was involved in sending one lightly-trained man behind the Iron Curtain to accomplish one simple task (not the ridiculous mission undertaken in this film), check out "The Looking Glass War." And compare to much better films like "MacIntosh Man", "Smiley's People", or especially "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold." And as hard as John Savage tried, he could not hope to equal Richard Burton, Paul Newman, Anthony Hopkins or Alec Guinness.
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed