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(Review originally written at 11 November 2006)

This is not just your average spy movie. It chooses a realistic approach, with a slowly told story and an humane main 'normal' character. No action or fancy tricks here, just a normal every day looking spy who tries to infiltrate by the 'enemy' with words, rather than actions.

Nothing wrong with a movie that has much dialog but it has to be good enough to keep and grab your attention. This however isn't always the case in this particular movie. The dialog does tend to make this movie unnecessary hard to follow at times. The movie chooses to tell its story through its dialog rather than by the actors or images themselves. For most part it works effective enough but it also makes the movie drag and uninteresting to watch at times. The movie makes it too hard on itself.

The fact that this is a cold war thriller made during the cold war itself gives the movie a certain bit of extra. It helps to make the atmosphere an absolutely fantastic one. No way a movie with a story like this could be made as effective and realistic present day. Its atmosphere is definitely one of the reasons why the movie works out so well and realistic.

Of course another reason is Richard Burton. He plays a 'not so everyday' spy. He is far from perfect and he rather seems and acts like a bum, instead of a cool, agile spy. This is of course a far more realistic take on the spy movie genre. Burton, through his role, is the main reason why the movie works well and effective. The movie is filled with some other good but mostly unknown actors. Bernard Lee and Walter Gotell also pop up in the movie. It's sort of fun seeing these two actors together in a different spy movie than the James Bond movies.

It's story is for most part intriguing and features some good and interesting layers in it that makes this an excellent and original thriller and genre movie.

The movie is good looking, despite the surprising fact that the movie was not shot in Germany (where the movie for most part is set) at all. The movie is filmed brilliant entirely in black & white. The camera-work is just great and every sequences is eye candy to look at. Also the musical score is surprisingly good and effective.

So all in all, it's a very stylish and beautiful looking movie, that becomes a bit too unnecessary hard to follow at certain moments because of its many and complex dialog.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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