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The film's storyline is similar to Three Days of the Condor (1975).
Some movie posters for this film featured a long text preamble that read: "At 29, Charles Heller was a mathematician without equal. At the CIA, he was a computer expert without peer. But when terrorists murdered the most important woman in his life, he became an assassin without experience. To avenge her death, the CIA trained him, briefed him, armed him, and then...they abandoned him. The first 11 minutes will absolutely shock you. The last 11 minutes will rivet you to your seat. The Amateur".
The film's writer is Robert Littell who is a journalist and novelist who specializes in espionage novels that frequently are set around the spy world of the CIA and the former Soviet Union. He wrote the screenplay for this movie then wrote the novel of the same name after-wards. The book has a slightly different title, it being "The Amateur: A Novel of Revenge (1981)". This film was his first film & TV credit.
This was the second consecutive espionage movie appearance for actress Marthe Keller whose previous film had been The Formula (1980). It was also the second consecutive spy movie for cinematographer John Coquillon whose previous film had been Final Assignment (1980).
This movie was nominated for 10 Genies (Canadian Academy Awards) including Best Picture but failed to win one award.
Publicity for this movie notably declared that "The first 11 minutes will absolutely shock you...The last 11 minutes will rivet you to your seat."
Actor Christopher Plummer doesn't appear in the movie until the 53 minute mark.
The name for the CIA training facility was "The Farm".
John Savage was cast in the lead role in this film after the success of his earlier movie The Deer Hunter (1978).
One of two 1981 movies starring actor John Savage. The other was Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981).
The movie's opening title cards read "Washington, D.C." and "Munich".
The names of computer systems at Burroughs, Inc. were "Bertha" and "Charlie".
The film's closing epilogue states: "Sam Kaplan retrieved the information from the Astro Computer in the diner and sent it to Heller. Heller's book was published one year later. Heller and Elisabeth Vaculik are living under assumed names. Their whereabouts are unknown".