Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a CIA analyst on the run after the New York City office he was working out of is targeted by assassins, leaving everyone dead, except him. He’s on his own in the city not knowing who to trust, why he’s in danger and having no real field experience is leaving him feeling very overwhelmed. As he keeps telling everyone he’s just a researcher. “I just read books!”
All his book knowledge starts to come in handy as he manages to avoid a hitman (Max Von Sydow), deal with a shady CIA deputy director (Cliff Robertson), kidnaps and seeks refuge with a woman (Faye Dunaway) and begins to unravel the mystery as to why everyone wants to silence him.
Three Days of the Condor is a quintessential 1970’s paranoid thriller. A bit more conventional and mainstream than some of its contemporaries like The Parallax View and The Conversation, Condor it’s still very entertaining.
I hadn’t watched this in ages, but always remembered the very beginning when the hit is carried out on the office. It’s brutal and tense. It really sets the danger and stakes that Redford will be facing throughout the film.
There are plenty of close calls for Redford as he navigates through the story not knowing who is on his side, who he can trust and what exactly he did to put himself in this predicament.
There are some terrific suspenseful scenes involving him avoiding Sydow and his killer accomplices. It’s the white-knuckle kind of stuff that you really want to see when watching a thriller. And this one directed by Sydney Pollack doesn’t disappoint.
It’s a gritty film, the type that seemed to be the specialty during the 1970’s. New York during this time has a certain unique real-world flavor that seems to have gotten lost over time. Watching Redford walk the cold streets the ambiance of the city just oozes from the frame. Somehow most New York-set movies today feel antiseptic. N.Y. feels more background and is rather lifeless for some reason. I’m not sure what that’s about.
My only real main gripe with the movie is Redford and Dunaway’s relationship and it escalates way too quickly and conveniently into the romance department. It comes so fast, is so unbelievable and absurd it punctures the reality the movie was rolling with from the start. I understand an element of trust has to grow between the two for the story’s sake, but it’s pushed through so easily that it just had me rolling my eyes.
Other than that, Redford is solid throughout the whole movie and it’s one of those movies where you understand what made him such a popular star during his peak years. It’s a terrific yarn and one that continues to hold up.