This is the story of Magnus Pym, from his childhood to the end of his career in middle age. As a young man, there is little doubt that his father Rick was the most influential character in ... See full summary »
A woman leaves an abusive relationship to begin a new life in a new city, where she forms an unlikely and ironic relationship with a suicidal hit man (unbeknownst to her). Enter a worn, ... See full summary »
Ever dream of starting your life over in another town, with another name, in another country? For a fee, an organization called The Company will provide all the documents necessary to create a brand new you in a brand new place.
Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what ... See full summary »
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
I haven't read enough of Robert Littell's novels to know if he's the American version of Frederick Forsyth, Graham Greene, or my personal favorite, John le Carre, but I've liked the novels of his I've read, and one day, I hope someone makes a good adaptation of one of them. THE AMATEUR, filmed in 1981, was faithful to the plot of the novel for the most part, but was done in a plodding, mechanical style and further hampered by a one-note performance by John Savage in the lead role; only Christopher Plummer's wry turn as the head of the Czech Secret Service (he also poses as a professor) was worth watching. This made-for-TNT miniseries isn't as bad as THE AMATEUR, but it also falls short of the novel.
Littell's novel was an epic roman a clef about the history of the CIA, with the usual blending of factual and fictional characters, and while it traveled well-worn territory (and not quite as substantial in that regard as le Carre's novels are), it's still an entertaining read. Obviously, when filming a long novel, even for a miniseries like this, some things have to go, but it's disappointing when great material is here, and the adapters (director Mikael Solomon and writer Ken Nolan) don't bring it to life on screen.
Part of the problem is it seems like a greatest-hits version of the novel. You get the various incidents, like the Hungary uprising in 1956, and the Bay of Pigs, but there's no flow to the story. Solomon and Littell also cut out the humor of the novel - the character of Yevgeny, the Russian agent, for example, has a great fatalism about him (in the book, when asked what one of the principles of Marxism (I think) is, he replies, "A spy in hand is worth two in the bush?"), and Rory Cochrane could have played it as such, yet he does absolutely nothing with the part (he's certainly capable of it, so I'd like to think it's not his fault). Also a lot of the subplots are given to the character of Jack MacAuliffe, and Chris O'Donnell simply isn't equipped to handle them all. Speaking of O'Donnell, another problem is while the scope of the story is for 40 years, none of the characters really age, with the possible exception of Alfred Molina (as Harvey, code-named "The Sorcerer") and Michael Keaton (as real-life deputy director of counter-intelligence James Angleton). O'Donnell just looks like O'Donnell with a gray wig. The only actors who make much of an impression are Molina and Keaton. Overall, "The Company", while not terrible, definitely could have been a lot better.
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