Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keeping Track

(Robin Spry, 1985)
It ain't Kidder and Sarrazin's fault - their rapport is relaxed and bright enough to render this espionage thriller almost watchable. Spry's direction is pretty laid back too, only that's no virtue for an espionage thriller - there's absolutely no momentum, and none of the set pieces have any form to them, so that we're stuck contemplating the bald idiocy of the plot. Or not - personally I tuned out within the first ten minutes, when we are asked to accept that a competent executive on the way to the most important meeting of her life would hop off a train in the middle of nowhere in unarmed pursuit of a masked murderer, leaving her word processor and luggage on board, and that she would then not run after the departing passenger train when seconds later she proves herself capable of keeping pace with a freight for minutes at a time. The high-tech trappings must have looked dinky even in 1985, and any narrative comprising Canada and Russia squaring off for a microchip that "could influence the outcome of the whole world" is its own worst enemy. Spry probably thinks he's got a clever wrinkle on Hitchcock by transforming the old master's insidious paranoia into CSIS-knows-best paternalism at the end: the moral that comes across is mind your own damn business, and if you want to sell that one it'll take more than nervous word processing and medium shots of people running down stairwells. The coup de grace is Ben Low's score, a self-destructive orgy of pan flutes and harmonica synthesizers.

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