"3 Days of the Condor" Blu-ray Review
May 18, 2009 by Zach Demeter
The Sydney Pollack thriller 3 Days of the Condor is heard of little these days, but surprisingly the themes it presents are shockingly relevant to today’s world, even more than thirty years after this film originally debuted in theaters. Not only was the film received exceptionally well by critics, but it also was nominated for an Oscar and featured such talent as Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. Though the film by now has been replicated in other films and may not feel as exciting and original to today’s audience, it’s a stupendous piece of film that deserves every bit of praise it receives.
In Sydney Pollack's critically acclaimed suspense-thriller, Robert Redford ("Spy Game") stars as CIA agent Joe Turner, codename: 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, "The Thomas Crown Affair"), 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.
“What a strange film to release on Blu-ray,” I thought to myself. Not only had I never heard of this film (or if I had, it’d been awhile and I never made any attempt to see it either way, so the entire premise of it was a mystery to me entirely), but it was also an incredibly old film and that’s not something that the format sees a lot of (especially from Paramount, who’s recent crops of Blu-ray releases have been 80s and 90s comedies). Still, I’m always up for a good thriller and after seeing what the 70s had to offer in terms of suspense and excitement with The French Connection, I was more than intrigued by the prospects of this film. Not to mention the late and great Sydney Pollack was behind the camera, so I knew I’d at least get something worthy of my time.
And I wasn’t wrong. While the film doesn’t particularly blow one away with the originality of the story, it is one that is exceptionally complex. I was constantly trying to play catch up with the myriad of turns and twists that this film takes, particularly with the introduction of characters who either immediately attempt to kill Redford or play his ally and then later attempt a murder. It’s a seriously nail-biter of a film, simply because you never know who is going to try and kill who. I’m still not entirely clear on the how’s and why’s of all of the murdering of entire CIA departments, but I’m not entirely averse to watching the film a second time to clear up any misunderstandings.
What I found particularly amazing about this film is how relevant it remains today. The idea of oil shortages causing a crazy stir in the U.S. is something that we still live with today and the idea that Americans would want the government to do whatever it had to do to maintain control over oil fields is…well, it’s just a provocative thought and one that still rests on our minds today. It just goes to show you that you can’t write off a film, no matter how old, as being irrelevant in today’s culture.
And, of course, the writing, directing, and acting in the film was all absolutely superb. Redford, who I usually don’t care too much for, was absolutely brilliant here and I was struck with the sudden reality of how much Brad Pitt looks like a young Redford; a random though, but I just saw Benjamin Button a week or so prior to watching this film, so the idea of the many ages of Brad Pitt made for an interesting comparison. Faye Dunaway was also fantastic and as “controversial” as their decidedly random sex scene was in the 70s, I’ve seen so much more incredibly explicit scenes in today’s cinema that I didn’t even take notice much of it.
Overall 3 Days of the Condor, while dated a bit visually, is a fantastic film and one well worth checking out if you haven’t already. Recommended.
3 Days of the Condor arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with only an insert noting the importance of updating your Blu-ray player’s firmware (it’s very important!) and the disc itself which sports the usual dull plain grey disc art. Menus are simple and easy to navigate.
Video arrives in a 1080p AVC encoded 2.40:1 transfer and the film, especially for its age, looks great. There is some haze and film grain to be had throughout the entire film, but honestly for a film this old I expected…well, worse. It won’t win any awards for brilliance in visual quality, but it is a good looking film for what it is. The TrueHD 5.1 mix is less than impressive, however, as sound effects still sound tinny and muffled and surrounds and subwoofer output are rarely used. Also included is a French Mono track as well as English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Extras? Well…no. There’s the Theatrical Trailer in HD, but aside from that? Nothing. A shame too, as we likely will never get anything now with Pollack’s passing. A retrospective documentary would have been nice or, at the very least, a small “In Memorium” for Pollack but…no dice. Completely barebones.
Overall a solid release if you don’t already own the DVD release, but if you do there’s really nothing new here. A moderately impressive visual transfer paired with a disappointing audio mix.
3 Days of the Condor arrives on Blu-ray on May 19th.