(fr) wrote: In my opinion, paranoid government conspiracy thrillers are half the reason movies exist; we actually need the bold, sometimes absurd suggestions they deliver - it's a healthy dose of 'get the f*ck out of your own head' and imagine what imagineers are cooking up out there. Sometimes they can lead us to the truth. They open our minds up as citizens and warn us of potential dangers previously unforeseen. And if none of that is convincing, they're damn sure fun and exciting to watch! Particularly with Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway adding an extra dose of sexy to an already smart screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr and David Rayfiel, with a wise director in Sydney Pollack at the helm. All the tools are in place for a damn good show at the theatre.Joseph Turner (Robert Redford) reads books for the CIA, looking for encoded messages, potential threats from rival organizations, ideas and schemes baking in the world of literary imaginations. He's not a field agent, more like a librarian with a knack for problem solving, though he does have a codename: Condor. But he's about to become a gun-wielding fugitive as he returns from lunch one fateful day to find his office has been mysteriously shot up, nobody left alive - as the last man standing, he grabs a gun and runs like a hunted deer. His problem, he had initially claimed, is that he trusts people, and he's a kind, soft type of guy. Which is my first problem with the movie, because after our inciting incident he seems to be an almost complete madman. I figured this was a characteristic that could slowly develop through the exasperating situations he's put through, but instead it happens quickly, and he becomes quite the bully in order to live through this, womanizing the simple ski-shopping Kathy (Dunaway) at gunpoint, holding her captive in her own home, tying her up when he leaves, and at one point practically raping her. We're supposed to cheer for this guy? Well, he didn't technically rape her, she gave in, but after expressing her love for a relationship she's already been doing a poor job with. So now she's cheating on that guy, Condor's pretty much making her do it, and we're supposed to be on their side? I have to say, a certain part of me wasn't concerned whether or not they'd make it, I almost thought in the tradition of the classic slasher flick they might deserve to die in the end. J Higgins (Cliff Robertson) is head of Condor's division, and after a brief phone booth conversation with Condor, convinces him to come in to their office for safety, but Condor is suspicious. Between Higgins and Kathy, he's gone from being trusting to distrusting in people a little too quickly, he's already a contradiction of himself. But he has reason to: approaching the situation slowly, asking that a local trustworthy cop accompany an even higher figurehead, Wicks (Michael Kane) - to ensure everyone's on the same team - Condor meets them in an alley, only to see he's Wicks' target. Wicks kills his cop friend, but Condor immediately gets a near fatal shot off on Wicks from a considerable distance - this guy just reads books?! I really had a good laugh when I stepped back and realized this soft sweet librarian-like Joseph Turner had very quickly become James Bond, an ace shooter who manipulates a woman while deciphering mysteries and then using her to kidnap the head of the CIA!! (I won't spoil any further) Supposedly Dick Tracey is his influence. I guess the lesson here is: keep reading kids, it'll come in handy. There is a kind of symbolism, metaphoric-thing - I don't know what you call it - but they refer to Condor as a rare breed, and the condor vulture bird had become an endangered species by this point in history. Clever, kind of.What really keeps me engaged in this film is not so much the protagonists, but the antagonists. As a citizen who has heard more than his fair share of scary corruption stories in high authority circles, I want to know who's up to what, what their purpose is, what's at the center of gravity here, and why do they take such violent measures? Characters like Higgins, and the sniper trailing Joubert (Max von Sydow), keeps me guessing and theorizing, while in front of me layers are being peeled one after the other to reveal the naked truth behind it all. It's such an intriguing way of telling a story. Is there a SPECTRE-like organization hidden amongst the CIA controlling it? Is Higgins good or bad? When a shady confirmation comes in that Condor's office is all dead except for him, Higgins immediately replies "there are supposed to be seven" - is he saying this because he knows there's supposed to be seven working at that time or because he's ordered seven to be killed? We're never quite sure, but we deduce our theory by his associations as the film plays on, and yet there are still surprises. It's a brilliant piece of writing, and though I don't know anything about James Grady's novel which it's based on, I'm sure there's something in that to credit, whether the movie is faithful or not.It's also a film that holds up today, perhaps even more prominently. Conspiracy theories have popularized, and there are eerie associations such as the fact that Higgins' possibly corrupt CIA office operates out of the World Trade Center. I will say as a kind of SPOILER ALERT that oil has something to do with the motive behind this all. The fact is there are many who believe that oil wars and forces within our own government, including CIA, were at least part to blame for the Trade Center's destruction... was Condor trying to warn us of something it knew? It certainly sends a chill down my spine.