Critic Reviews

68

Metascore

Based on 15 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
This is a movie about spies, but it is not a thriller in any routine sense of the word. It's just the meticulously observant record of how naiveté, inexperience, misplaced idealism and greed led to one of the most peculiar cases of treason in American history.
100
This odd-couple angle is a terrific formula for a movie, creating at least three stories: The plight of each man, their joint effort to accomplish their goal and the changing dynamic of their relationship as the story progresses. As if that weren't enough, The Falcon and the Snowman also turns into a how-to movie with a fine sense of detail for the worlds of espionage and drugs. But towering over all of this--and even over the angry politics of the film--are two special performances by two extremely talented young actors.
75
Both a spy drama and an intriguing character study. Penn invests his Snowman with fascinating eccentricity and is the more interesting of the pair, though Hutton delivers an estimable performance as the sullen young falconer.
75
Schlesinger’s portrait of his two characters’ scheme, which comes to involve transactions with KGB handler Alex (David Suchet) and unravels courtesy of Andrew’s burgeoning heroin habit, is consistently suspenseful, thanks to swift pacing and a script that mires itself in its protagonists’ confusion and paranoia.
70
A very curious though effective entertainment, a scathing social satire in the form of an outrageously clumsy spy story told with a completely straight face.
70
All the way through The Falcon and the Snowman director John Schlesinger and an exemplary cast grapple with a true story so oddly motivated it would be easily dismissed if fictional. Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn are superb.
50
Time Out
Hutton succumbs firstly to a thin role, and secondly to the film's lack of any strong viewpoint about its leading men. As usual Schlesinger is more than half in love with what he might be satirising.
50
Washington Post
Everything about this movie is backwards -- where Lindsey was fascinated by the way political and cultural themes were engrafted on what was essentially just a scam, Schlesinger starts with an idea of an era, then contends that his characters were the products of it. Instead of a story, there's just a lot of footage of the falcon flying around, toting his subjective camera, and, like the audience, at the end of its tether.
50
By the time their jaw-dropping story is over, you may feel you have traveled every inch of their journey with them, a downward spiral all the way. What you still may not understand is what really made Christopher Boyce (Timothy Hutton) and Andrew Daulton Lee (Sean Penn) do what they did, or, more importantly, what made director John Schlesinger feel their story was worth telling.
50
Miami Herald
It's a bloodless film, however; a spy story that actually drags for long stretches in the middle. And even though it's based on fact, there's rarely any drama in it. These are odd failures. [25 Jan 1985, p.D6]

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