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3 Days of the Condor(1975)
In Sydney Pollack's critically acclaimed suspense-thriller, Robert Redford stars as CIA Agent Joe Turner. Code name: Condor. When his entire office is massacred, Turner goes on the run from his enemies...and his so-called allies. After reporting the murders to his superiors, the organization wants to bring Condor in - but somebody is trying to take him out. In his frantic hunt for answers, and in a desperate run for his life, Turner abducts photographer Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), eventually seducing her into helping him. Every twist leads Condor to the end of his nerves...and will take you to the edge of your seat. With nowhere to turn and no one to trust, Turner realizes his most dangerous enemy may be closer than he ever feared. And as he zeroes in on the truth, he discovers there are some secrets people would kill to keep.
For more about 3 Days of the Condor and the 3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray release, see 3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 27, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow, John Houseman, Addison Powell
Director: Sydney Pollack
» See full cast & crew
3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray Review
An oft-forgotten espionage thriller arrives on Blu-ray...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, May 27, 2009
In May of 2008, Hollywood lost one of its finest filmmakers to cancer: Academy Award-winning actor/producer/director Sydney Pollack. He helmed critically-acclaimed classics like Tootsie, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, and Out of Africa; gave us oft-overlooked gems like Jeremiah Johnson, Absence of Malice, and The Slender Thread; and served as producer on recent masterpieces like Iris, Michael Clayton, and The Quiet American. His countless contributions to cinema have been remarkable... his influence on generations of industry professionals has been undeniable. Even his so-called lesser works -- divisive films like The Way We Were, The Yakuza, and 3 Days of the Condor -- exude an effortless understanding of story and character, an unparalleled confidence behind the camera, and the director's unwavering commitment to his craft.
3 Days of the Condor's Joe Turner (Robert Redford) wouldn't stand a chance against modern cinema's Bournes and Bonds, but that's precisely the point. Turner is an analyst by trade and choice; a CIA bookworm tasked not with silencing rogue agents or visiting exotic locales, but with reading documents, digging through newspapers, and examining foreign correspondence. Unfortunately, that all comes to an end one fateful day when a seemingly harmless report attracts the attention of a dangerous assassin (Max von Sydow). After running an otherwise uneventful and ordinary errand, Joe returns to his office and finds that all of his colleagues have been killed. With one eye on the road ahead and one eye over his shoulder, the timid analyst begins to realize he can't trust anyone: a call to his handlers just leads to more trouble and pleas to his superiors become deadly endeavors. His only ally is Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), a random stranger he meets and proceeds to kidnap while hiding in a local shop. At first, she's frightened by his behavior and paranoia, but soon she begins to realize his intentions are entirely noble. As more bodies begin to arrive at the morgue, Joe has to untangle a web of lies, uncover the source of a vast conspiracy, and stay one step ahead of his pursuers.
Based on author James Grady's well-received 1974 novel Six Days of the Condor, Pollack's 1975 adaptation is meaty and engaging. Trading sharp dialogue for deft gunplay, complex characters for invincible action heroes, and a nuanced, densely-plotted screenplay for Hollywood's usual take on an espionage thriller, 3 Days of the Condor is a cerebral drama first and foremost... it just so happens to involve a conspiracy within the CIA. That's not to say the film is an enthralling genre classic -- it has to run through the cat-n-mouse conventions of its spy-vs-spy shenanigans and wade through a rather predictable romantic subplot -- but it is an unexpectedly strong thriller that has stood the test of time. Redford and Dunaway are wonderful in their respective roles, injecting understated humanity and vulnerability into their every encounter. Sydow is effective and creepy, imbuing the film's first and second acts with a palpable tension and electricity. The supporting cast members are a bit too eager (their deliveries are often overdrawn and their expressions overplayed), but the screen sizzles every time the camera returns to Redford and Dunaway.
Which brings us to Condor's chatty nature. While I usually count myself among those who would praise a film for its intricate conversations and searing exchanges, I found myself glancing at the clock when particularly lengthy discussions would start to drag on. It's especially frustrating considering just how many plot points and details the film has to convey to keep its audience up to speed with its characters. With crosses, double crosses, and betrayals a plenty, you'd think the flick would rocket along without succumbing to the pacing problems inherent to more plodding productions. However, I was shocked when the credits finally rolled: I thought the film had pressed in on the three-hour mark, but its runtime had barely touched two hours. All things considered, 3 Days of the Condor is a flawed but uncompromising entry in an overcrowded genre; a solid '70s thriller I fear most modern filmfans will continue to overlook. Give it a shot and see if it's worth remembering.
3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray, Video Quality
To call 3 Days of the Condor's grainy 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer "filmic" would be a gross understatement. Owen Roizman's photography is grim and gritty, forfeiting vibrant colors in favor of a more dismal palette. That's not to say primaries are always washed out: reds pack frequent punch, stark blues assault the eyes on occasion, and skintones have a slightly warm, healthy appearance that suits the nature of the film. Blacks aren't exactly deep, but have a steady resolve that produces comparable dimensionality. Moreover, contrast is spot on and shadow delineation is more revealing than it is on the disc's standard DVD counterpart. If anything, image clarity is an issue. While a surprising number of shots and scenes are immaculate -- extraordinary even -- others are dull, insipid, and uninspiring. I have no doubt much of the picture's intermittent softness can be attributed to the original print and the cameras used to shoot the film, but the shifting sharpness of the image can be jarring and downright distracting. Ah well, at least Paramount's technical transfer is impressive. While source noise and artifacting haven't been eliminated entirely, the picture isn't burdened by any debilitating digital anomalies, glaring edge enhancement, or pesky DNR. Barring a future high-dollar overhaul, Pollack's 3 Days of the Condor probably won't look much better than it does here.
3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Purists will be fairly pleased with 3 Days of the Condor's fit and faithful Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track. It doesn't boast the dynamic prowess or immersive soundfield of the best catalog remixes on the market -- its at-times paper-thin sonics are undeniably flat and front-heavy -- but it does deliver a passable approximation of the film's original mono presentation. Dialogue is stable and natural, allowing rapidfire conversations to register more clearly than they have on previous home video releases. Even though a few lines are a bit muffled and muddled, the overall improvement is noteworthy. Gunshots and other pulse-pounding aspects of the mix also call a fair amount of attention to deeper, more robust LFE presence. Sure, it all sounds suitably dated (even by '70s standards), but anyone familiar with the cinematic limitations of the era will shrug off any such shortcomings. If anything, modern filmfans will probably complain about the track's distinct lack of rear speaker activity, a criticism I find slightly amusing in light of the film's intended theatrical presentation. Ah well, it won't change anyone's impression of '70s audio and it certainly won't earn points for bombast or fidelity, but 3 Days of the Condor sounds pretty good in spite of everything that's working against it.
3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, the Blu-ray edition of 3 Days of the Condor doesn't offer any supplemental goodness aside from a high definition presentation of the film's theatrical trailer.
3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
3 Days of the Condor isn't a Robert Redford classic or a Sydney Pollack masterpiece by any means, but it is a competent and compelling entry in both legendary filmmakers' canons. And while the new barebones Blu-ray edition isn't the sort of release that will attract many modern filmfans to the fold, the disc nevertheless features a faithful video transfer and a reliable (albeit subdued) Dolby TrueHD 5.1 remix. Personally, I would recommend dropping this one in your Netflix queue before making any decision that involves your hard-earned cash. However, if you get the opportunity to pick it up on sale, you're likely to be pleased with your choice.
3 Days of the Condor: Other Editions
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3 Days of the Condor Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Paramount Details More May Blu-ray Titles - March 3, 2009
Paramount Home Entertainment has revealed the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of '3 Days of the Condor', 'Changing Lanes', 'Enemy at the Gates', and 'The Machinist', which are all due to hit store shelves on May 19th (the other ...
• Paramount Reveals May Wave of Blu-ray Titles - February 24, 2009
In an early announcement to retailers, Paramount Home Entertainment has revealed that they will bring five catalog titles to Blu-ray on May 19th. Included in the wave is '3 Days of the Condor', 'Changing Lanes', 'Enemy at the Gates', 'The Machinist', and 'Paycheck'. ...
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