The Film (4/5)
Joe Turner (played by Robert Redford) is an analyst for a CIA research center in New York. While getting everyone’s lunch, the center is attacked by a hit squad led by Joubert (Max Von Sydow) killing everyone there. When Turner returns he escapes with a gun and calls the agency for help. Turner doesn’t realize that he is now caught up in a conspiracy and is a prime target. Can Turner make it out alive?
The 1970s was a second golden age for Hollywood cinema with plenty of intelligent thrillers that still hold up today. The 1970’s was a high point for paranoia with spy thrillers such as Marathon Man, Parallax View, and of course Three Days of the Condor. Unlike modern spy thrillers, Three Days of Condor isn’t afraid to take its time with quieter scenes, a bleak underbelly, and spacing out the action.
After a strong and suspenseful opening 30 minutes, the pacing slows down as Turner soon discovers how deep the conspiracy is and what dark secrets it may hold. When we do get action scenes they’re quick and brutal. One of the best set pieces is a fight between Turner and a mailman assassin. The movie is also stylish with its sense of dread including a thrilling sequence where Turner starts wire taping the assassins after him.
Three Days of the Condor was directed by Sydney Pollack. Pollack came from a television background and worked a huge variety of genre films. What makes him a perfect fit for this kind of movie is how simple the direction is. The movie isn’t distracted by anything fancy just a thrilling story with a good pace. Cast wise the movie is packed with great performances. Robert Redford is perfect here as the unlikely hero against the system. Cliff Robinson is sinister and dark as the untrustworthy CIA agent. John Houseman turns in a good understated performance as one of the CIA commanders. One key scene has him talking about the difference between old wars and the new threat of the 70’s. Max Von Sydow is excellent as the warrior assassin who has a shocking twist near the end of the film. The only questionable performance comes from Faye Dunaway. Her acting is fine but for the most part her character is shoehorned into the picture.
Three Days of the Condor is an exciting well-made spy movie from an excellent period in film history.
We get two main audio options, Stereo or 5.1 surround sound. Both tracks are clear and full of detail. No hiss or pops. The 5.1 is the way to go for the wonderful 70’s soundtrack by Dave Grusin. English subtitles are included. The subtitles are easy to read and free of error. The 1080p HD transfer is crisp with a rich amount of detail. The film looks like it was filmed today.
For extras we get a mini interview with Sheldon Hall, who discusses Three Days of the Condor’s place in history, its original draft under the novel’s title of “Six Days of the Condor”, and 70’s spy films in general. Next is the hour long special “The Directors: Sydney Pollack”, with interviews with various actors who worked with Pollack. The case comes with reversible cover art. The theatrical trailer is included, and finally inside the Blu-ray case is a 32-page liner notes booklet that includes an essay on the film by critic Michael Brooke, Archival images, and an interview with Pollack. The extras are the same on both Dvd and the Blu-ray discs.
Three Days of Condor gets a wonderful release from Eureka, making the movie look its best. The movie works on almost every level and still has a strong message today. If you like good spy thrillers, then I Highly Recommend this release.