I Saw A Film!

Gene Hackman is an incarcerated Vietnam vet mysteriously recruited by the guy from Butterflies Are Free (now wearing literal rose-colored glasses), Eli Wallach (the Ugly?) and Richard Widmark to do some killing for them. The film starts with a bunch of black and white documentary style hype about assassinations and you quickly pick up on the suggestion that this is a possible tale of the above-the-law shadowy creeps who arrange high profile murders. So Hackman is sprung from prison, taken to Mexico, reunited with Candace Bergen (his wife) and then run through some helicopter training exercises shooting paint cans. Oh, Mickey Rooney plays a deep surprise agent embedded with Hackmen in prison, and, well I won’t give it all away.

Hackman gets some ethics and eventually decides he’s not on board with the killing, and gets threatened with his wife as hostage. Though, every time they hand him a rifle you can’t help thinking they’re risking him turning the tables. Eventually, killing happens, helicopters are smoking, cars blow up, cars hit pedestrians and we hear that there are multiple shooters. The film plays a bit with the JFK assassination, which, frankly has been put to bed for a long while, but not so much in the mid-seventies.

While the film exudes 70s era film darkness (The Mechanic, Death Wish, Day of the Jackal), it lacks a bit of meat to keep us involved. Because the thing comes from the point of view of the insiders, and their not really revealing their overall purposes, and their target being entirely meaningless to us. The only thing we’re really married to is Bergen and Hackman’s relationship which feels doomed from the outset, but also rather sweetly played with like they’re newlyweds (they’ve been separated for a while).

Widmark does a nice job playing the friendly face of the deadly hidden corporation. But this movie is nothing but a downer, good cynicism fuel for conspiracy junkies.

Running free on Prime in good ole USA.

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