The fictional tale of the murderous nineteenth century barber (Sir Ben Kinglsey) who sold his kills to a neighboring butcher (Joanna Lumley) for her renowned meat pies. A young innocent (... See full summary »
The true story of Christopher Boyce, a young All-American man whose job as a guard for sensitive documents shatters his faith in his country and leads him to a sometimes comic, sometimes chilling sideline as a spy for the Soviets, aided by his scruffy buddy, Daulton; it can't last, though, and the consequences are tremendous for Boyce and his family.Written by
Dan Hartung <email@example.com>
I think some critic somewhere said this film fell short of being a great film, but was a very good one. That's accurate, you are left wanting to know more. The best performance comes from David Suchet as a sardonic and frequently supercilious Russian. The film commendably avoids trying to make us empaphise with traitors and even manages some humour in all the madness. In one blink or you'll miss it scene, Daulton infiltrates an embassy function where he speaks to a foreign diplomat. "Is this the usual garb of your countrymen?" He asks. "Yes, it's garbage" the man replies.
The film appears open minded about whether Boyce is an idealist or an opportunist who fails to realise the significance of his actions. His confession of having received payment from the Soviets and his cynical dismissing of money as 'never being very important to me' suggests a more amoral stance, but his other remarks perhaps reveal a more complex and sincere character. Boyce seems to be suggesting that any leap forward in technology must also go hand in hand with an equal quantitative one in morality. But I think it was Einstien who said that the bomb has changed everything except the way man thinks. This suggests that Boyce's weary indifference while being interviewed was due to his realisation that this moral leap was beyond man and therefore there was no hope, we are doomed to extinction. All political and religious life had been rendered meaningless to him due to the impermanence of man in the face of super-technology. This may account for his reluctance to recite the 'valley of death' speech to his father, as he knew full well that it's message was also meaningless in the context of modern warfare. No-one, not even the generals would be left standing. Boyce then, was possibly suffering a certain existential despair, as he stated America was the first country to use nuclear weapons. His concern that his betrayal meant little because we are already in jeopardy is even more pertinent today, with more and more countries either acquiring or seeking to acquire nuclear technology. It's rather like a group of toddlers playing with a grenade, passing it around. Say you were to add more grenades, would you then increase the likelihood of an accident such as the pulling out of a pin?
This rare political film asks a more broad and philosophical question, perhaps. If Boyce says he knows something about predatory behaviour (and the film is full of big fish eating little fish motifs) and left the church because he has decided that man is not divine and just another animal, where does that leave man if he cannot ultimately change his nature? The film does not leave you with an answer, merely the fear on the faces of uncomprehending parents and the unseen spectre of a mushroom cloud.
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