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This spy thriller isn't exactly a thriller, but it doesn't drag. It's not as action packed as 007, but not as plodding as some of the deliberately confusing espionage movies.
The lead character helps, despite Burt Reynolds in the lead role. He later turned to straight man in comedy roles, his forte, because he wasn't what one would call a natural thespian.
Still, he tries, and we get that feeling. He plays a likable character who does try. He has a few human faults, but his heart is in the right place. The character is very well written, and makes us care about the story. That already gives the movie an advantage over 90% of other action movies.
The directing is superb, too. The fight scenes look very real, at least to people who have actually been in and around a lot of fights. Most action movies have goofy "choreographed" looks that street people laugh at, and that bubble boys swallow like a baited hook. "Operation C.I.A. looks like real people in real fights. What's more, after long chases scenes on foot, in long sleeves and hard shoes, they are actually fighting tired. Our director here was brave enough to risk showing "reality" as opposed to placating the bubble boys.
One gets the feeling that the movie was meant for working class people, for people who have been outdoors a lot. It certainly isn't for the cubicle dweller of today, the one who fantasizes that he is a Hulk who can do ten marathons in one day.
But that is because this was made in 1965, when most Americans did have a feel for the outdoors and reality.
However, there are faults to this movie. The sound and the score are not very good. One woman looks like her lines are dubbed in very poorly. There are a few parts that drag. Overly long scenes in cars, on streets, in conversations. Granted, these are needed for the plot, but they aren't animated enough. Most stage play directors know how to deal with this, and we get the feeling that the director here had forgotten simple theatrical directing.
In short, the action scenes are perfectly directed, but the dialog scenes leave much to be desired. Overall, more assets than detriments. Not a classic, but a decent movie. Figures to be rated 4-7, or 3-8. Any ratings of 1,2,9, or 10 would look suspiciously like some control freak trying to swing the vote for no reason. As of this review, most of the control freaks are trying to swing the vote toward the bottom, as is the case with the typical IMDb control freak towards movies made before 1960.
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