A lesson in what to do with filmmaking.
10 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Being someone who wants to tell his stories for a living this movie was a revelation. I saw it when I was not quite 18. Over ten years ago.

I came across it on one of the movie channels. It opens so quietly. Just everyday life going on. A guy late for work. Coming in by bike and in the rain no less. His workplace is comprised of superiors he wont conform to please and those he works alongside that apprciate that quality in him. He has the air of a man that knows who he is. Gently he sets the tone for his corner of the world and those around him are much the better for it.

He goes out for lunch and returns to find everyone in his office cut down like they were nothing. Even though we saw it happening. We still feel his horror at returning to find his sanctuary torn asunder.

When he finds his feet again he calls in and in a panic tells his superiors. Everyone's dead! When they try to run him through the usual protocols he reponds. I'm not a field agent I just read books! He doesn't go charging off for revenge like so many action heroes. This guy just wants out. He's seen his world demolished and he just wants to survive the day. He's panicked and alone. But when his saviours turn out to be, if not in league with the devil at least working the same side of the street. He has to fend for himself. Having run out of options and with nowhere to turn this CIA reader realizes if there's any saving to be done he'll have to do it himself. And as John Houseman's Big Guy at the CIA asks Cliff Robertson's Director Higgins "how is he doing this" Higgins replies "He reads. He reads... everything" Houseman nods knowingly. The message here? Knowledge is power. And while these men have their offices and expense accounts Joseph Turner is a man who knows things. He borrows some equipment from the back of a Telephone repairman's truck and taps a telephone line in a NY city Hotel. Another character we might think this an unlikely skill to just happen to come in handy but it's been established. The guy is brilliant and has a job reading and analyzing books all day every day five days a week. He isn't everyman. He's just the hero any one of us COULD be. He is believable which makes all that he achieves all the more impressive.

The moments of tension between Turner and Joubert the Assassin are beautifully done. From the initial scene where the hit on his office goes down we know that this hitman knows he is standing next to the only one of his targets that is still running free. Joseph it seems

has a sense of it. As you watch the scene play out as they move between floors. You feel trapped there with them. Joubert is like a force of nature. He harbours no personal motives and so it's difficult to harbour any against him.

As to whether Joseph knows it was he that personally killed the people at his office. Its unsure. But I feel like at the final interaction between them one thing is clear. Turner is at least at that moment unable to switch gears from the natural gratitude he must feel at being saved by this man and however coincidentally aided by his actions. He feels safe enough to talk comfortable with him.

I could write pages more but time escapes me.
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