3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
Robert Redford as JOSEPH TURNER
Faye Dunaway as KATHY HALE
Cliff Robertson as J. HIGGINS
Max von Sydow as G. JOUBERT
John Houseman as MR. WABASH
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Sydney Pollack
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Joseph Turner is a bookworm who works for the CIA analyzing literature from around the world. One day while he sneaks out for lunch, mysterious hit men barge in the office and assassinate everyone there. This sends Turner on the run, and when he tries to connect with his handlers at the CIA, more hit men show up to kill him. Turner then goes into hiding for three days and, with the help of a woman he reluctantly takes hostage (Faye Dunaway), he tries to discover the reason someone’s trying to kill him.
WHAT I LIKED
There was a period of time not too long ago that I got into the thrillers of the 70s. I watched such classic films as “The French Connection” and “Serpico,” finding a certain nostalgia for the era. “3 Days of the Condor” fits into this category. It was a political thriller from 1975, and it has a charm that results from the style and limitations of the time in which it was made.
Were it made today, “3 Days of the Condor” would look more like “Michael Clayton” and feature sweeping camera movements and tons of practical explosions. Because it was made in the more fiscally conservative time – at least fiscally conservative for your average movie – it’s much more subdued. It relies on character interaction and basic suspense to build tension.
This gives the film a nostalgic charm, which grounds it in a reality that we don’t get in movies today with all the technology at even low-budget filmmakers’ disposal. Watching “3 Days of the Condor” lets you believe that there are real Joseph Turners out there doing real mundane work for the CIA.
Finally, the end of the film gives a prophetic message about Americans’ view on the free flow of oil and shifting morality in regards to covert wars. I don’t know if the filmmakers meant to be this deep, but I found it fascinating to see what was said in 1975 applied to 2009 sensibilities.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
As much as I enjoy the films of the 1970s for their simplicity and grittiness, there were some serious pacing issues with “3 Days of the Condor.” Like some of the films of the 1940s that let themselves get bogged down in shoe-horned love stories, “3 Days of the Condor” stumbled hard in the middle of the narrative.
Much of the problems in this film stem from Faye Dunaway’s character. She’s really unnecessary to the overall nature of the film, except to impart some level of humanity to the Turner. But the character of Kathy Hale has no logical function at all. She is kidnapped and tied up by Turner, yet she falls in love with him during the course of the film. I kept expecting her to try to escape, but she ends up boinking the guy and then making him breakfast.
It’s almost shocking by today’s standards that a character written in the height of the feminist movement would be so psychologically screwed up and dependant on abusive men.
Ultimately, if the story had stuck to its guns as a political thriller throughout, it would have been fantastic. However, the sideline story of a codependent lover just made things come to a screeching halt.
Movies like “The French Connection” and “Serpico” live up to the quality of today. Unfortunately, like “The Parallax View,” “3 Days of the Condor” may be entertaining in a nostalgic way but it was more a movie of its time than a classic today.
This Blu-ray disc is just a recoding of the original DVD release, which has no special features aside from the original theatrical trailer, which is presented in high definition.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of 70s-era thrillers.