U.S.A. • 1984 • COLOUR • 35MM • 105 MIN

‘We rely too much on sight, don’t you think, appearances being what they are?’ So says a sinister CIA agent (John Hurt) to a TV personality (Rutger Hauer) whose regular weekend with friends is about to be transformed into a secret surveillance operation designed to uncover a spy-ring. Or has Hurt a different agenda that involves unmasking his CIA boss (Burt Lancaster)?

Based on a Robert Ludlum novel and scripted by Alan Sharp (who wrote two great American movies of the 70s, Ulzana’s Raid and Night Moves), the film is less interested in telling a story than evoking the world of Big Brother circa 1984, where no-one is safe from media intrusion or power politics or both. In his final film, Peckinpah signs off with a spark of black humour: a dog’s head in a fridge alludes naughtily to Straw Dogs; and at one stage, when his closed circuit TV equipment malfunctions, Hurt has to improvise an impromptu weather forecast to maintain his cover.

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