5.8/10
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28 user 13 critic

The Secret Agent (1996)

London of the late 19th century is a haven for political exiles of all sorts - refugees, partisans, anarchists. Verloc has made his living spying for the Russian government, an agent ... See full summary »
1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

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Storyline

London of the late 19th century is a haven for political exiles of all sorts - refugees, partisans, anarchists. Verloc has made his living spying for the Russian government, an agent provocateur of sorts, while simultaneously providing information to the London police, specifically Chief Inspector Heat. When the new Russian ambassador demands he prove his worth or lose his salary, Verloc sets off a tragic chain of events that involves his pretty young wife Winnie, her intellectually disabled brother Stevie, and a figure called the Professor, whose fascination with explosives and destruction makes him the person to call on when Verloc needs a bomb. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some moments of violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 November 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent  »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First full length cinema film of Eddie Izzard. See more »

Quotes

The Professor: Pull yourself together. Remorse is for the weak and weakness is the source of all evil on this Earth. There's a time coming - and it's gonna be sooner rather than later - when this will be understood by governments and individuals: that there can be no progress and no solutions until you make a rational decision to exterminate the weak.
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Connections

Version of Startime (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A very good film, if not quite a masterpiece....
11 April 2006 | by (Nebraska, United States) – See all my reviews

A very good film, if not quite a masterpiece....

This film aims very high, with every intention of obtaining stratospheric heights, but time restraints do not allow this film to fulfill it's full potential, and I think that the obvious effort put into the film by all involved, can produce a slight sense of disappointment in those who appreciate the film, and only increases the alienation of those who are not attuned to the themes of the film.

Essentially, I think that the film's greatest flaw is that it is excessively abbreviated, and most characters are not able to be fully developed. This is partly the fault of Joseph Conrad, who wrote complicated and intricately plotted books, but the slow pace which adds greatly (and appropriately) to the atmosphere of the film, also prevents the insertion of additional scenes to develop the characters. This film could have been expanded into a masterpiece, but it would have been very long. To appreciate the film, one must grasp the nature of a large number of characters, and often there are only abbreviated cues to show the way. Thus a story about betrayals small and great, becomes a film of great betrayals.

It appears that opinions are very polarized on the acting in this film, but I found most of the performances engaging, with the strong exception of Robin Williams, who seems to be mainly engaged in an attempt to break out of his comedy roles with the aid of a phony scowl. I should note that others disagree with my opinion of Robin Williams in this case however.

I found the soundtrack (by Philip Glass) to be outstanding, with a traditional flavor as is appropriate to the film, but quite original.


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