A bookish CIA researcher finds all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust.
Every now and then I peruse Netflix for something completely different. Their ‘classic movie’ section always serves up some delights, it introduced me to Network, The Thomas Crown Affair and Midnight Cowboy. Faye Dunaway stars in two of those three, which is why when I saw her credited on Three Days of the Condor I had high hopes based on her previous performances. Mix that with Robert Redford, a man whose filmography I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with, and a story that seemed strangely relevant to the modern day, I was sold.
I find it difficult to observe a film made some 30 years ago, without comparing it to subsequent events right up to modern day. However, much like Network, this film is prophetic in its storytelling. Set Post-Watergate and Family Jewels scandals, the key themes in this film were across the headlines and in the public eye at the time.
Fast forward to modern day, and you have people like Edward Snowden exposing the CIA, assassinations of civilians and politicians, fear of privacy being invaded and the list goes on. All of these modern day fears are somewhat addressed in The Three Days of Condor, but placed in the film to be nothing more than a thrill for moviegoers, but they have become realities. They were not that far fetched then, but these events have continued and arguably got worse. After finishing the film, you can see how unsettlingly accurate it has been at predicting potential trends and events, intentional or not.
Casting those events aside, the film can stand on its own. It creates a good level of paranoia and suspicion, and it feels deeply rooted in realism with regards to the combative scenes. What seems slightly out of place of the political thrill of the film, is the bizarre love story sub-plot, a completely unnecessary story-line between Redford & Dunaway that dilutes any thrill from this thriller. It taps into that 70’s bond style charm of wooing the ladies through force and masculinity, while maintaining the mysterious intrigue of a good man on the run. In this instance, Redford kidnaps Dunaway who somehow falls in love with him, a situation that produces some of the films best lines and a strange cheek-rubbing love scene.
However, I can see how that can add to the films charm. It has after-all been referred to as a B-movie with a bigger budget and bigger names, and it is those silly elements that B-Movies still have an audience. For all its flaws, its ‘unintentional’ political message, heavy dialogue and portrayal of the CIA as some boys club, it is a nice slice of 70’s nostalgia. Redford and Dunaway are great despite the ridiculous storyline, brought to life by the soundtrack, good supporting cast, quick editing, big computers, and typical style factors to make it your standard 70’s affair.
The resulting product is like a Bourne movie without the sensationalism and stunts, a Bond movie without the suaveness and the gadgets, it is a simple political espionage thriller, full of nonsensical entertainment.