Now we’ve got a good retro spy film to discuss. This is always the way to go if you want some quality entertainment. You usually have a good sense for how things will play out but the characters and dialogue are almost always on point. This film is no exception and so there is a good bit of fun to be had here all the way through. The pacing is good and by the end you had a fun time which is the key thing here.
The movie starts with John the reporter being tasked with a special mission. He’s going to be a foreign correspondent for his newspaper and find out the secret details going on abroad that nobody knows about. The boss figures he is the perfect guy because John could not care less about foreign affairs. He doesn’t even know any of the guys involved and so he’s definitely qualified to give a very unbiased look on if the world is close to a world war or not. Still when he gets there John ends up getting embroiled in a much bigger controversy than he ever could have imagined.
As you can maybe tell from the ending this movie takes place a little before World War 1. It makes for an interesting backdrop as there are some tensions brewing but nothing has actually happened yet so America is mostly out of the loop. This ties in well to the ending which takes a fairly bold stance. It’s an effective ending although while it works for dramatic effect I do think two characters should have cut out a bit early. Like say your message real quick but then get out of there because ultimately if you die too soon then you won’t be able to help out further which would be a big issue. In theory you want to get the right mix of spreading your message and staying alive.
John is one of those fairly cocky main characters who figures he can do anything. This mission will be child’s play since he has been such a star reporter all these years right? Well, that’s what he figured but you know that it may not be so easy. Throughout the adventure he has to deal with assassins and trying not to get kidnapped which can be draining. There was one assassin in particular named Rowley who was apparently really good at his job but also used to humor a bit. When the guy appeared you couldn’t help but chuckle because he’s super old and not a fighter. Basically what he would do is just push you at the last second into traffic or off a building. That’s what he does and to his credit since it works so much I suppose it is a valid strategy.
John gets out of danger most times but not every time. Ultimately there is only so much he can do and he is captured at one point. He always keeps his spirits up though and looks pretty good here. Then you have Carol as the main heroine. They don’t get along great at first but eventually they become allies. She is someone who has already gotten involved in the world of politics and has grand ambitions of her own. Since she sees John doesn’t take them seriously that is why there is some tension at first. She does end up helping quite a bit during the film.
There is a rookie mistake John makes later on though when he sees someone being kept prisoner in the hidden entrance to a windmill but leaves to tell the cops. Naturally by the time he returns the guy is gone and the whole thing looked like John was insane. You can’t ever leave the scene of a crime because it just won’t be there when you return. You have to try and stay one step ahead of the villains or you’ll quickly fall behind. Eh…that sounds a bit too obvious right? But you get what I’m saying.
Another positive I’d say for the film is how many different locations we go to. The characters drive through the desert, fly in a plane, get trapped at sea, go to parties, etc. It felt like something was always happening here and the pacing was very fast. I’m not sure how long this film was but it felt like a fairly long one in a good way. It didn’t drag on or anything. If anything I would say that it just makes some iffy decisions near the end which don’t really help matters.
First off you have Stephen who is one of the main antagonists of the film. He is helping the Germans and setting up murders and kidnappings for them. He does a lot of really bad things and it’s heavily implied that he has done a lot more off screen. So by the end the film has the characters give him way more credit than he deserves. Without getting into specifics he does one nice thing which ends up saving some lives but you have to consider that doing something nice doesn’t make up for being an evil person. It just doesn’t. Sure it’s great that in a high stress moment he did something fairly selfless but the guy was fairly unrepentant up to then and the sheer scale of his crimes were staggering. I think the world deserved to know the truth rather than John and the team attempting to suppress everything before Carol stopped them.
Meanwhile there is an old man named Van who is really put through the wringer in this film. The guy gets tortured and it’s rough seeing an old man have to go through that. At that age you’re hoping that the rest of life will be more like easy street as opposed to everything getting so tough. I think the film should have cut that torture out, maybe just mention or imply it instead but it was a rather dark moment in a film that was otherwise pretty light.
The ending is definitely intense as mentioned earlier and so the film really managed to accomplish a lot. It shows just how much a reporter can do on his own to try and spread some news and help the heroes out. Ultimately John did his part and at least in this film’s timeline he was pretty instrumental in the end. His boss did a good job by selecting him for the assignment. I’d have enjoyed seeing more of him because the opening scene in the news office was fun. Ultimately that was just the vehicle for setting up the adventure but it was cool either way.
Overall, The Foreign Correspondent is a good film. It’s one I hadn’t heard of before and I do think to an extent it will likely be lost in the shuffle compared to other films which are simply better but the important thing is that this is a good film though. Through and through it is one that I can recommend. There aren’t a ton of films about reporters running around to get a scoop but you could definitely use this as a blueprint to set more of those up.