Maybe 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.
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.