The true story of Christopher Boyce, a young All-American man whose job as a guard for sensitive documents shatters his faith in his country and leads him to a sometimes comic, sometimes chilling sideline as a spy for the Soviets, aided by his scruffy buddy, Daulton; it can't last, though, and the consequences are tremendous for Boyce and his family.Written by
Dan Hartung <email@example.com>
Christopher Boyce uses a numeric cipher to send messages to the Soviets while keeping Daulton Lee unaware of their meaning. The cipher is nearly identical to the one the real Boyce used for this purpose (described by Robert Lindsey in his book, upon which this movie is based). In the movie, Boyce's cipher works like this. First, number the alphabet's letters sequentially - e.g., A = 1, G = 7, Y = 25. Second, multiply these numbers by seven (A, G, and Y become 7, 49, and 175 respectively). Finally, reverse the digits (so A, G, Y become 7, 94, and 571). The message Boyce photographs in his bathroom decrypts to "good will towards men the falcon"; and while his earlier encrypted message that "the courier is undependable" is more or less gibberish (perhaps because he's still calculating it), the last few numbers decrypt to "falcon." The real Boyce's cipher differed only in that the first step was to assign numbers to letters in reverse order - i.e., Z = 1, Y = 2, et cetera - but from there proceeds identically. Boyce did not receive instructions from the Soviets but invented this cipher himself, reasoning that it would be child's play for the Soviets to break but beyond Lee's ability to decrypt. See more »
The buttons of a cipher lock pressed by Boyce make DTMF (telephone touch-tone) sounds, but in reality they only click when pressed. See more »
This movie does an excellent job of taking us all the way through the dark tunnel of espionage, from the inception through the ultimate reckoning. The movie's impact is made even deeper with the realization that it is based on a true story. Timothy Hutton provides us with a quality, understated performance and Sean Penn demonstrates why he is one of America's finest living actors. As with "Midnight Express," this movie should make us all think twice about doing something we shouldn't be doing in a foreign country.
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