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James Earl Jones
Roy Parmenter is a veteran FBI agent who has spent the last 20 years trying to find the Russian agent who killed his partner whom he calls Scuba. When a couple of deep cover Russian agents are killed Parmenter thinks Scuba is the one doing it. The Russians who have received word from Scuba that if they want him to stop, they have to pay him. So they send a veteran Russian agent, Karpov to stop him. Parmenter was tasked with performing background checks on people applying for certain things requiring security clearance and when he comes across Jeffrey Grant who's applying to the Air Force Academy, he discovers that his parents' info is false. He also learns of Karpov coming into the country and suspects that he is here to stop Scuba and that Karpov went to the city where Jeffrey and his family live, so he decides to keep an eye on Jeffrey and his family. Written by
It's easy to look back now at this film as a very average Cold War thriller, but that is with the benefit of hindsight. It's difficult for today's generation, those of the age that the Phoenix character plays, to appreciate that the world really was living with a possible Nuclear destruction if there had been an accident or serious misunderstanding.
The action and drama is really primarily psychological, with the heart of the film hinging on the Poitier and Phoenix performances. It's easy now to pass off the whole thing as a trivial character piece, but, then, the stakes were sky high and the Cold War themes were progressive and unusual. In our post Cold War world where Gorbachev and Reagan slowly recede into the mists of history it would be a shame to write of this movie without understanding the atmosphere it was made in.
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