Article 3563 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-24-2011
Posting Date: 5-17-2011
Directed by Michael Crichton
Featuring Ben Gazzara, E.G. Marshall, William Windom
What it is: Suspense thriller
A government agent is on the trail of an extremist whose recent activities have made him an object of suspicion. The agent discovers that the extremist has managed to acquire information about a military secret weapon, and has also acquired information about the agent’s personality profile, which means the extremist knows he’s being watched and plans to use what he knows about the agent to further his plans.
For the second day in a row I’m watching a movie that features as one of its plot elements an attempted assassination of a president, but the two movies couldn’t be further apart. Whereas yesterday’s movie was a dark and subversive satire with a definite political agenda, this one is more of a conventional thriller and keeps political views out of the mix; in fact, the extremist makes it clear early on that he considers both political parties to be equally evil, and we never learn precisely what policies he objects to. The emphasis here is clearly on the cat-and-mouse game between the agent and the extremist. The most interesting aspect of this one is that the extremist has access to the psychological profile of the agent, and builds his plot around trying to predict what the agent is going to do to prevent it and using it as a tool to further his ends. Though the movie could have gone further with this, it does make for an interesting idea. Some of the plot revolves around a nerve gas which I assume is a science fiction aspect rather than a real entity. Overall, it’s not a bad little thriller and it has a good cast. It was also Michael Crichton’s directorial debut.