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A thrilling spy story, interwoven with a beautiful love story.
Eva Ionesco4 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Enigma is a computer part which scrambles Russian messages, so that America can't understand them. They can only be read by the intended recipient. The Americans know that the Russians are going to transmit a message revealing the plans of five political assassinations they want to carry out.

So they send in former defector Holbeck (Martin Sheen) to grab the scrambler and substitute a false part, so they'll be able to decode the message, and block the assassination attempts.

However, as we listen in on the Americans heads of the spy organisation, we find that they already have the scrambler, and they want Holbeck to try to steal Enigma, only to convince the Russians that they don't already have it. They don't expect Holbeck to succeed. That way the Russians, who had stopped transmitting with Enigma, just in case, will begin transmitting again.

Enigma is in the computer in the office of Dimitri Vasilikov. Somehow Holbeck must gain access, and in order to do that, he must find out when Vasilikov will be out. He sends in his former girlfriend Karen (Brigitte Fossey) to seduce Vasilikov, so that she can look through his papers and find out his scheduled movements. Karen is glad to do it, as they tortured her father, a university professor, to death.

Because we know that it's better for the Americans if Holbeck fails, the movie becomes even more intense as a spy thriller. We find ourselves hoping he can survive against the odds, especially as he uses ingenious methods to beat the Russians at every turn.

But what's this? Are Karen and Vasilikov falling in love? Will Holbeck win Karen back, or will she actually end up with Vasilikov? The romantic twist lifts this spy thriller, already worthy of a ten, even higher, for its originality. The writing, the direction, and the acting all combine to make this new and fascinating twist a compellingly realistic one.

You find yourself at the edge of your seat, gripping your armchair, not only for the excitement of the spy story but for the intensely beautiful romantic love story as well. The two themes are interwoven perfectly, right up to the end. You really want both sides to win. So who does win, in the end? You'll have to see the movie and find out, won't you!
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Great acting, suspense and plot twists
irenerose14 October 2004
This was the film that first indicated to me what a great actor Martin Sheen really is. He modestly claims that Charlie is a better actor, Charlie can't hold a candle to him.

I found it suspenseful and thoroughly enjoyed the intertwining of the love story with the main plot (and I usually HATE love stories). There's a great plot twist at the end that struck me as being fully credible, particularly in the early 80's time period, and probably now also.

The final scene had me on the edge of my seat. This film roundly illustrates that treachery is often doled out by those we trust, while declared enemies have more in common than they suspect, and finally, that human compassion can be found where we least expect it.

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Plot does reveal an "Enigma"
Dasomir20 April 1999
I must admit, when I first began watching this film I had no clue what was going on. So the beginning was a bit confusing for me. However, that did not diminish my enjoyment of the movie. The characters reveal themselves to be more complex than they may first appear, and that is what makes this a memorable film. At first I heard this was a real "Hollywood" movie. Although it obviously lacks the stereotypical "guns and fists" element, the convincing performances of talented actors such as Martin Sheen and Sam Neill more than make up for it. I'd rather see a film with more substance than shooting any day.
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Great thriller!
jackieblues14 August 2001
I first saw this film on hbo around 1983 and I loved it! I scoured all of the auction web sites to buy the vhs copy. This is a very good suspense movie with a few twists that make it more interesting. I don't want to say too much else because if you ever get a chance to see it, you'll be glad I didn't say too much!
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Bleak as well as thrilling spy-film about a double agent who goes behind the Curtain Iron
ma-cortes18 April 2011
Passable spy film about the Cold War with confused plot . The film concerns about a defector (Martin Sheen) who is recruited by the Secret Services (Michael Lonsdale) in an underground spies ring to attempt to encounter the key of five pending killings by locating a Russian coded microprocessor . He must retrieve at whatever cost a device holding information that would unravel the murderous scheme . He takes on unscrupulous men and astute spies , being only helped by a beautiful girl , his ex-girlfriend (Brigitte Fossey) . Trapped behind the Iron Curtain the starring goes inside Berlin to find the artifact . He'll confront evil head of Stasi (Derek Jacobi) and a cunning KGB officer . Meanwhile the Soviet Politburo agent (Sam Neill) falls in love with the protagonist (Brigitte Fossey, though actress Lisa Eichhorn was originally cast in this movie but was forced to leave the film , she was replaced with Fossey), acting as a double agent.

The film has suspense , tension , emotion , mystery and specially in its final a little bit of action . Although the picture has various ingredients for entertainment , the plot is confusing and complex , screenplay has gaps and sometimes is embarrassing and absurd . The star-studded casting is important , with known international actors but for a blurred writing , they sometimes appear acting with no much sense . Fine acting by the great Martin Sheen . Martin once said of this film: "it's the best role I've had since Apocalypse Now (1979)¨. Publicity for this film stated that it was Martin Sheen's third consecutive British film in a row , the earlier films referred to were Loophole (1981) and Gandhi (1982). Good support cast such as Sam Neill who stars as a Russian KGB agent in this movie , around the time of this film, Neill was famed for playing British spy Sidney Reilly in ¨Reilly¨ (1983). Furthermore , there appears the French Michael Lonsdale , and British Derek Jacobi . Adequate cinematography , the East Berlin locations in this movie were actually filmed in the French locations of Lille in Nord and Strasbourg in the Bas-Rhin .

The film belongs to spy sub-genre developed during the cold war and its maxim representations are John LeCarre's novels adapted to cinema in films as : ¨The spy who came in from the cold¨ (by Martin Ritt), ¨Deadly Affair¨(Sidney Lumet) and ¨Russia House¨ (by Fred Schepisi with Sean Connery). The film was regularly directed by Jeannot Szwarc ; he was actually born, bred and educated in Paris and he returned to his homeland to direct this film that was completely shot in France . Actor Martin Sheen and director Szwarc prior to this film had previously worked together in American television . Jeannot's biggest successes were ¨Jaws 2¨ and ¨Somewhere in time¨ , but after his failures in ¨Supergirl¨ and ¨Santa Claus¨, he has been working for TV , in episodes as ¨Smallville¨, ¨Boston legal¨, ¨Bones¨, ¨Fringe¨ and many others . Rating : acceptable , 6 . Only for Martin Sheen fans and spy genre buffs .
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Great Cold War Spy Movie
claudio_carvalho20 June 2015
The CIA discovers a Russian plot to assassinate five defectives on the Christmas Day, but they do not know who they are. The defective Alex Holbeck (Martin Sheen) is recruited in Paris by CIA and sent to East Berlin to steal the scrambler of the Enigma, the machine used by the soviet intelligence for communication. On the arrival, Holbeck discovers that the KGB and the East Germany government know that he has arrived and his contacts are arrested. Holbeck meets his former lover, the lawyer Karen Reinhardt (Brigitte Fossey), and she gives a safe house to him. The Russian agent Dimitri Vasilikov (Sam Neill) and the East German agent Kurt Limmer (Derek Jacobi) try to find Holbeck's whereabout using different methods, while Karen seduces Dimitri to get the information about the location of the soldiers that Holbeck needs. However Holbeck does not know that the CIA has the scrambler and he is only a bait to convince the Russians that they do not have it.

"Enigma" is a great thriller with a complex story during the Cold War. The screenplay is very well written and with good twists. It is strange only the cast speaking English since the characters are Germans and Russians, but the cast is good and makes worthwhile watching this spy movie. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Enigma"
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Nice work my Sheen & Neill
aramo122 May 2002
Based on R2 DVD by EuroVideo 98 min

Direction and editing could be better as the story is occasionally confusing for no good reason, lacks tension and the ending is very abrupt. The DVD is in 4:3.

All that aside, both stars [looking very young indeed] turn in respectable performances and the locations look authentic.

6/10 a little generous but worth watching on TV
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Scrambled Mystery
wes-connors10 July 2012
In Paris, American-born East German defector and radio talk show host Martin Sheen (as Alexander "Alex" Holbeck) is recruited by the CIA to go to Berlin and steal "The Enigma Machine" which scrambles secret Cold War spy messages. This will help the US thwart the USSR's planned assassination of five defectors to the west. In East Berlin, Mr. Sheen fools the KGB with various disguises. He sprays silver in his hair, but it looks the same. Sheen seeks out former girlfriend Brigitte Fossey (as Karen Reinhardt) and she sets out to seduce their "unsophisticated but shrewd" enemy, Moscow swimmer Sam Neill (as Dimitri Vasilikov). Sheen sometimes appears bored with this confusing adaptation of a good idea. His co-stars make their final confrontation scene work well.

***** Enigma (1/28/83) Jeannot Szwarc ~ Martin Sheen, Brigitte Fossey, Sam Neill, Derek Jacobi
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A dry, tedious and utterly confusing waste of celluloid
red_phenix29 November 2008
After receiving a DVD of this with a Sunday newspaper, I hoped that it was not the usual duff films that are given away because no one would ever buy them. I was wrong. Sheens acting is on par with that of a ten year old in a school pantomime production and the same goes for the majority of the cast. Neill is satisfactory, but plays a Russian and isn't helped by his hybrid Northern Irish/New Zealand accent, and nor are the rest of the KGB characters, all of whom sound like they're in a Cambridge Footlights reunion. In fact, the only people with genuine accents are extras who supply an odd word here and there, helpfully letting us know at least where the hell everything is going on in what is otherwise a complete mash. The "espionage" factor is unimpressive for the most part and primarily consists of Sheen faffing about in various ridiculous disguises whilst trying to blend into the background, quickly becoming not only boring but laughable. The plot has potential but is completely murdered by the rest of the confusing production elements. This could have been so much better.
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Cristi_Ciopron22 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This espionage melodrama has a nice, almost promising cast, and should have been very atmospheric; there is a will, or an intention of atmosphere—and also a want, or a lack of it.

Sheen plays a dissident who now activates as an agent, he is a loner, loved by women but haughty; Mrs. Fossey is his mistress. Neill plays the gallant, generous, chivalrous Soviet agent.

Sheen and Neill are both essentially annoying; Finlay does a cameo, and so do other known actors. Mrs. Fossey is hot; but then again, she always is.

I will be your true friend and break it to you—the flick is low on suspense and on excitement, it's trite and quite boring; the good thing is that you get to see Mrs. Fossey naked. Other than that, lukewarm derivative espionage exploitation.
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would have given it 1 star if not for the surprisingly unexpected ending ...
Sherparsa30 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
OK, so it was near the end of the 'golden era' of the Cold War and people, including secret agents on either side were supposed to believe the competition between the two blocks was real and they ought to fight for the freedom of capitalism on one side and the security of the labor camp on the other so either nation would keep quiet, say nothing and obey the authorities ...

but c'mon, even back in the day anyone with a little extra gray matter in their skulls would know how stupid the entire show was, thus how fake the chilling war ...

yes, there are a few good moments in the plot but long story short, if it weren't for the surprisingly unexpected good ending, i'd have given this boring movie just 1 'bad star' ...
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Slow-paced spy drama
Leofwine_draca21 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
ENIGMA is an under-the-radar Cold War drama of the 1980s, basically unknown to modern audiences. A youthful Martin Sheen is tasked with entering East Germany and stealing secrets from the Russians, but Sam Neill is hot on his tail and has other ideas. This is less a thriller in the BOURNE style and more a slow, deliberately paced spy drama like TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY. The moments of it I enjoyed were chiefly those featuring cast members Sheen, Neill, and an against-type Derek Jacobi as the antagonist. The likes of Michael Lonsdale, Warren Clarke, and Frank Finlay are also welcome by their presence. Where the film falls down is in the very slow pace, which saps life from the picture, and the presence of the obligatory romantic sub-plot which couldn't be less interesting.
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