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Rogue CIA agent Sam Boyd is called back by "the Company" to do some work. Namely a hostage trade of jailed Soviet spy Pyiotr Grushenko for an American agent the Soviets had taken. In the newly united Germany the trade goes bad and Grushenko and Boyd find themselves on the run from both the KGB and the CIA as they unravel an International espionage plot set at the end of the Soviet era. American and Soviet find themselves in an uneasy partnership as they hop around Europe trying to stay alive. Notes: Baryshnikov hated this movie he refused to even do publicity for it. Written by
Susan Southall <email@example.com>
Ex-spies Gene Hackman and Mikhail Baryshnikov pair up and get embroiled in spy business again
The movie opens with an incident unrelated to the story. It is night in an office building and a figure in black (Gene Hackman) is taking photos of formulas. From a distance, a guard spots his light, leading to a slew of guards pursuing him. Out of breath he manages an athletic escape, despite his age. His industrial espionage has succeeded.
Next day he's waiting to report his find to the cosmetics company that hired him. It's their secrets that had been stolen by a competitor. While waiting, he sees in a newspaper a photo of a bearded professor who has gone missing. A young computer whiz beside him has found what he has about the theft of formulas much more easily, by hacking into a computer. Hackman manages to divert the fellow, goes into the boardroom and explains his find as due to his own clever computer wizardry. In 5 minutes we see that Hackman is a dinosaur yet clever, a survivor, not above devious methods, clever, quick, observant and also displays a sense of humor. Moreover, after that he's sleeping with the chairman's secretary, showing his skill at infiltration.
While sleeping with her, he gets a phone call in code that tells him he's wanted at CIA, although he's no longer an agent of theirs. He flies up from Fort Worth to Dulle International. Met by two agents, he sees a familiar face as he waits for them to get 2 tickets to Berlin from Chicago. It's the bearded professor, now shorn of his facial hear but for a mustache and no longer wearing glasses.
On the ride to Langley, he asks "Why me?" Why take the battleship Missouri out of mothballs? The answer, he and we can guess, is that he is expendable and the mission is not one that can be handled by official CIA personnel. Into the large and dark classroom-type oval conference room he goes, greeting Elliot, the slick Kurtwood Smith. He is to exchange an imprisoned Russian (Baryshnikov) + 2 million dollars for an American held by the Russians. The American's name is Sobel, and we see a photo of him on Life magazine cover. He was a downed U-2 pilot years back. Hackman, still humorous as he will be throughout, is suspicious, because Baryshnikov is now of no importance. What are the Russians really after? A Col. Grissom comes from behind the scenes to push Hackman along.
Now, if this opening doesn't hook you, then you're not a fan of spy movies.
Baryshnikov's character complements Hackman's nicely. He thinks like a spy used to double crosses and shady dealings, because he was a successful mole. He has good intuition about situations. He is as suspicious as Hackman, and they hit it off.
The exchange runs into a big snag, and the two of them not only go on the run but become targets of someone. If they are to survive, they need to solve that mystery while being pursued by both KGB and CIA agents in Berlin and then Paris.
Nicholas Meyer wrote both "Time After Time" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan". His skill is again present in this movie, which he also directed. However, the second half doesn't attain the same level as the first half. It slows down with the introduction of new characters. This is what holds the overall result to being average (6/10) despite the movie basically being a reasonably entertaining 98 minutes.
I'm a Hackman fan from the time he appeared in "Bonnie and Clyde" in 1968. Baryshnikov I've seen in one other film, the one with Gregory Hines, "White Nights" (1985) which is very good. He's a professional and reasonably cast in this effort, and he works well with Hackman.
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