Surely, this is one of those obscure classics that people should know more about, and should really talk more about, but alas, it isn’t, and that’s a damn shame. My favorite heroes be it literary, cinematic, or otherwise, were the brainy heroes, and the reluctant heroes, two of which are represented here in this Redford classic about espionage, action, adventure, and government paranoia.
Joseph Turner is a man who works for the CIA reading everything on the market and checking back with the CIA for any ideas in the latest spy novel for new technology. For a split second he steps out of his job to get some lunch and when he returns, he’s shocked to discover everyone at his job has been murdered. What’s worse is everything he now knows, every facet of his personal life has been corrupted and his mysterious boss has no intention of letting him get out of the situation alive. Without a place to hide, he has to rely on his brains to get out of this incredulous situation, and must now rely on a stranger (Faye Dunaway) he’s taken hostage to help him solve why his boss wants him dead, but with a mysterious assassin (Max Von Sydow) on his tail, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay alive long enough to find out.
“Three Days of the Condor” is one of the movies that has had a consistent impact on film, but not as mainstream as other espionage tales. Director Sydney Pollack, a truly and often reliable director for movies such as this gives some great film making with a tense, taut and atmospheric thriller which Redford handles with a lot of reliance. He gives an excellent performance as a man pulled into an enormous situation without any clear exit in sight. There are some truly great performances here from Redford, Cliff Robertson, Dunaway, and especially from Max Von Sydow who is top-notch here as the assassin intent on killing Turner. All the while there are many tense moments here including Turner’s confrontation with his killer in an elevator, and the final ten minutes of the film which are truly chilling.