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Spy vs. spy. Three Yale grads, class of 1954, join their respective countries' secret service. We follow them for 40 years - through the outing of a British spy, the Hungarian revolution, the Bay of Pigs, the scent of moles, and the collapse of the USSR. Fictional characters - Yalies Jack McCauliffe, Leo Kritzky, and Yevgeny Tsipin and Jack's boss Harvey Torriti - rub shoulders with real figures like Kim Philby and James Angleton to tell stories of romance, intrigue, double-crosses, false leads, suicide, execution, and exile - in the name of ideology, patriotism, paranoia, perfidy, and one-upsmanship. Can the CIA claim any credit in the West's Cold War triumph? Written by
Michael Keaton's performance is spellbinding, astounding. I couldn't believe what I was watching. When he's on screen, he lifts the piece onto a wholly different level. Unreservedly worth watching for his screen time alone. The unnerving atmosphere he creates happily offsets the unfortunate mawkishness that marrs parts of the Berlin and Budapest stories. Alfred Molina also deserves praise for a strong, gutsy performance as a permanently booze-fueled, no nonsense old time field commander. Production values are pretty high for a television series - Ridley Scott's production presence no doubt helped on that front - and the post-war look and atmosphere of the Berlin sequences is particularly well realised. But this is unmistakably Keaton's tour-de-force.
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