three-days-of-the-condor-movie-poster-1975-1020195885Maybe I’m spoiled by the faster pacing of the similarly themed Bourne movies, or maybe I couldn’t bear the nonsensical presence of Faye Dunaway’s Stockholm Syndrome character, or perhaps it’s just Robert Redford’s wooden acting and meticulously mussed hair, but I couldn’t wait for this movie to be over and done with. Max von Sydow grabbed my attention, as always, but he didn’t have the screen time to hold me. I was intrigued by the idea of a secret agency within the CIA (which reminded me of the TV series Alias, which had a dual agency), but Sydney Pollack just doesn’t carry it off; it’s as though a mystery is supposed to build but goes nowhere until the very end, at which point I wasn’t interested in either the black ops or the depth of conspiracy.

Max von Sydow plays an assassin professional to the core. This should have been his story.

Max von Sydow plays an assassin professional to the core. This should have been his story.

Note: it’s very seventies with lots of smoking in boardrooms, churning computers, and Cliff Robertson with hair that threatens to turn into an almost pompadour in the final scene, making it nearly impossible to concentrate on the predictable dialogue that ends the film. Also note, The Twin Towers figure prominently in the setting, which added a contemporary spookiness. If you’re eager for CIA conspiracy and a storyline that doesn’t droop, go for the faster-paced (though politically less ambitious) Bourne movies – and this comes begrudgingly from a fanatic of slow burning espionage.

The most exciting facet of the finale is whose hair will win the battle between Robert Redford and Cliff Robertson. Spoiler Alert! Whatever rides atop Robertson's head emerges victorious by the conclusion, as it seems to expand from shot to shot.

The most exciting facet of the finale is whose hair will win the battle between Robert Redford and Cliff Robertson. Spoiler Alert!: Whatever rides atop Robertson’s head emerges resoundlingly victorious by the conclusion, as it seems to expand from shot to shot into a new entity.