In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/PT, Audience
In the UK: Not yet acquired
The 70s was a great era for conspiracy thrillers. Fresh from the Watergate scandal, the second half in particular was littered with paranoid stories about corrupt governments and organisations: The Parallax View, The Conversation, All the President’s Men, Capricorn One, Brass Target, The China Syndrome, Futureworld, Marathon Man – the list goes on. Indeed, the genre didn’t really end until halfway through Reagan’s first term with the likes of Blue Thunder and Blow Out.
However, because there are some true classics in that list, the not-quite-so-greats of the genre also tend to get elevated to higher status as a result. Three Days of the Condor is not really a classic. Not really.
Based on James Grady’s Six Days of the Condor, it sees Robert Redford playing a somewhat nerdy CIA analyst who analyses the plots of novels for a living. Then one day when he’s supposed to be at work, armed men break in and kill everyone in the office, leaving just Redford alive. Redford goes on the run, but then has to work out whom he can trust and who’s out to get him.
I’ve watched it twice and I’ve still yet to really get why people like it, other than because of Sydney Pollack’s taut direction, a reasonable air of mimesis, Robert Redford’s acting and the genre itself. Because it’s all right, sure. But Redford doesn’t really have much by way of tradecraft, beyond an ability to hack the old analogue phone system, and he doesn’t exactly treat women well. Not a lot happens, either.
Nevertheless, it’s still regarded as a classic and its influence continues to this very day. Indeed, in many ways, the dearly departed Rubicon owes a very obvious debt to Three Days of the Condor.
Now we have Audience’s Condor, which presumably is so-named either to keep the show open-ended or because it’s following a strict arithmetic progression from the original novel. A new adaptation of both the original book and the movie, it marries Three Days of the Condor, Rubicon and 24 into something that if not a classic, is at least a whole lot more exciting than its film source. Which is surprising, given it’s by the people responsible for NBC cluster-f*cks Kidnapped, Bionic Woman, and My Own Worst Enemy.
It sees Max “son of Jeremy” Irons in the Redford role. Now a coder working on data analysis in a similar sort of set-up to Redford, he’s disillusioned with spying and on the point of giving up. It’s been six years since his previous relationship and every time he goes on a date with the likes of Katherine Cunningham, either work gets in the way or he’s unable to open up. He grouses about it to fellow CIA buddy Kristoffer Polaha (Valentine, Ringer, Life Unexpected, Miss Guided) and Polaha’s wife Kristen Hager (Being Human (US)) and decides to hand in his notice in.
Then he’s hauled off in the middle of the night by Polaha to meet some CIA big bods including his uncle (William Hurt) and the deputy director Bob Balaban. An old program of his designed to pick up potential terrorists has identified – with only a 12% chance of accuracy – just such a person… and he’s in the US, heading to a packed stadium with a package from a PO box. What should they do?
Irons waxes eloquent about civil liberties and presumably bored and insulted they send him packing to the dirty without him.
Before you know it, thousands of people have been saved and Hurt is tasking Irons and the rest of his Rubicon-esque co-workers with the job of finding the people who organised the attempted incident. Except within a day, everyone’s been shot at work and Irons is on the run.
What’s going on, who’s responsible, why are they targeting Irons, where can he run to, when will he be safe and how can he know who to trust?
Presumably we won’t find out in three days any more.