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3 Days of the Condor

#296 - Three Days of the Condor
Sydney Pollack, 1975

A researcher for a branch of the CIA discovers that all his co-workers have been murdered, so he goes on the run in order to uncover the truth behind what happened to them.

Even if I were to disregard just what other kinds of thrillers were coming out of Hollywood around the same time period, Three Days of the Condor still feels like a decidedly average example of one. It's got a decent enough conspiracy premise, with its bookish protagonist (Robert Redford) being plunged headfirst into a world of murder and intrigue as he tries to evade a coldly European contract killer (Max von Sydow) while also dragging an innocent bystander (Faye Dunaway) into the mix. It's shot through with the usual '70s vibe - an appropriately funky yet sparingly used soundtrack, grainy cinematography, Redford, etc. Of course, the talent on both sides of the camera isn't enough to carry a film that ultimately feels rather pedestrian, especially in comparison to other films of its ilk from the same period. It's compelling enough, sure, but still feels weirdly hollow and not by design.

To be fair, there are good moments here and there - a protracted hand-to-hand fight between Redford and a would-be assassin in the middle of Dunaway's apartment, von Sydow making for a nicely villainous presence, certain scenes surrounding the ultimate reveal (and the ending, of course) - but they are spread fairly thin over the course of two hours. Redford and Dunaway are good actors and have a fairly decent chemistry between them when things are tense and paranoid, but I have trouble buying the sudden romantic development between them, even if it is soaked in standard '70s pessimism. Three Days of the Condor is far from the worst movie of its ilk, but it's hard not to feel like it hasn't aged all that well compared to its contemporaries.