This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
It’s time to look at a conspiracy film involving the CIA. Unlike Hopscotch though this one is played pretty seriously. There are a lot of twists and turns to be found here so you definitely can’t trust anyone. At the end of the day the characters all have to watch their backs. Knowing too much information can definitely be dangerous in this kind of scenario. Although in these movies even if you don’t find something out you can be in danger too. The CIA is just pretty dangerous although in theory the main characters knew that when they signed up.
The film starts off with Turner heading into the office for a normal day at his CIA job. He shows up late and uses the back door to help undermine the security efforts of the team. Everything’s a bit of a joke to him, but why not? He works in the mail division of the CIA and believes that things will be pretty safe here. Well, one day when he goes out to lunch the rest of his team is murdered. Turner calls in for help but the attacks keep on coming. It appears that the enemy has someone on the inside. Turner no longer knows who he can trust in the CIA and they believe he has turned rogue. His only option is to try and prove his loyalty but when you don’t know the extent of the villains’ influence then this is definitely a pretty tricky situation.
Ironically Turner taking the back entrance for lunch is what saved his life. The rest of the group was definitely not ready for this attack. I would have liked to have seen them take down at least one of the villains but it’s pretty realistic. The security protocols here are sound but the group grew lazy and complacent in the security. The instant people walked through the front door unannounced the CIA should have had their guns out. The problem is that this is a regular occurrence between deliveries and such so they were caught unprepared. In truth they should have had even tighter protocols. Nobody should be allowed through that door without ID which means that nobody in the building should even be allowed to order lunch. Of course, even in real life a lot of these places take many security chances.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of Turner though. I don’t mind his antics early on but I don’t feel like he handled being on the run so well. Mainly what holds him back is the whole plot with Kathy. He certainly needed a place to hide out but he was pretty iffy with how he handled the whole thing. Once he went to complete kidnapping that basically made him a villain as well. The romance that ensued was also fishy because it felt extremely rushed and almost like stockholm syndrome there. How do you fall for the guy who just kidnapped you and Kathy apparently had a boyfriend already. I think that whole plot should have been written out and those scenes are what keeps this film’s score down 1 point.
Kathy’s just not a realistic character in that sense and suffers from the same issues as Turner. It does seem like she’s a nice person at least and does her best to help Turner. It makes for the team up that he needed since he would be doomed on his own, but either way you know he’s only prolonging the inevitable. Conspiracy films like this are pretty fun because of how stacked the deck is against the lead. Turner is constantly outnumbered and has to try and survive on his own wits and wile.
I liked how the ending plays out. Naturally there’s basically nothing I can say about that but it was a fun dynamic. Turner has to make a tough call and live with the consequences. There’s a good amount of suspense and tension as the film ends and it’s all pretty satisfying. The film may not be as explosive as a modern spy type film but at the same time there was still more action than what I was expecting. We got some fun gun fights and the villains even used a classic video game tactic where you throw some objects in front of you. I’m not sure how useful that is in practice and it didn’t do much in this film but it was fun to see.
There are quite a few CIA members who show up during the film. You have to decide who’s in on it and who isn’t. One of the best scenes in the film because of this was the round table meeting at the CIA base. That’s because you have the top 12 or so members talking things out. You suspect that some of them are actually moles but not everyone. Some of them want to legitimately find Turner to help him out while others want to backstab him. It adds an extra level of tension especially when some members might suspect something. This isn’t the kind of film that will really delve into that as it’s a subplot at best but definitely a compelling one.
Overall, Three Days of the Condor is definitely pretty fun. It’s at its best when the film is really playing up the tension and danger elements. I thought the story was well constructed and the plot is pretty interesting. Throw away that random romance and it would be even better. The film is pretty intense and the villains make their presence known right away. If you like a good film about trying to survive with everyone out to destroy you then this is a fun one to watch. It’ll keep you engaged from start to finish which is what every good thriller should do.