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Herbert B. Leonard
A mysterious millionaire buys an ad agency and begins to replace its employees with his own people, who don't appear to be advertising types at all. A copywriter begins to suspect that the man isn't interested in selling products as much as he is in inserting his own sinister political beliefs into the commercials the agency runs on TV in order to subliminally brainwash an unsuspecting public into supporting the causes and candidates he wants them to. When the copywriter confides his suspicions to a friend and soon afterwards is mysteriously killed, his friend begins his own investigation. Written by
AGENCY is another of those Canadian-made pictures posing as an American film, replete with big-name U.S. actors, and featuring Montreal unconvincingly standing in for Washington, D.C.
With a premise that is more intriguing and timely now than ever - subliminal messages in TV ads - one would have wished for a sincere, thoughtful approach. Instead, the wretched script is awash with bad dialogue and, in the second half, silly corporate intrigue scenes involving Lee Majors slinking about the ad agency at night, trying to get to the bottom of boss Robert Mitchum's nefarious political machinations. Mitchum's henchmen are so laughable-looking and inept that they appear to have been recruited straight from a Pink Panther film. Parts of the film border on outright comedy.
Still, the film is not completely without merit. The first half is promising; Majors makes an affable protagonist; Saul Rubinek is quite good as the harried eccentric who first discovers Mitchum's conspiracy (although his open contempt of his boss makes his continued employment at the agency another implausible factor). Valerie Perrine, however, appears in an entirely disposable role as the obligatory concerned wife.
Finally, all production elements are professional, and AGENCY at least turns out to be a diverting, if daft and disappointing, thriller. I was not bored.
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