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THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN

FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN turns Timothy Hutton & Sean Penn's spoiled traitors into demi gods... but good
It takes Hollywood to make two spies ragged, endearing heroes: one a drug dealer and one who has an entire second book (mentioned later) based on his escapades after escaping from jail after his capture as an American turned Russian spy in the first book/movie, THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN starring young TAPS veterans Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn as Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee; the first a monastery dropout whose father worked security for the FBI (Pat Hingle) and the second a mobile drug dealer, both born with silver spoons blinding their logic, vision, and, depending on your politics, reason.

Sulking Hero
There's been a word either made up or simply revamped by the twitter-rambling scriptwriter Max Landis, son of ANIMAL HOUSE director John, called "Mary Sue" describing the heroine "Rey" in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS; which is a female lead much too good to be true without doing anything wrong, and existing for all the wrong/right reasons without any flaws. Thus, we have in Hutton's Boyce, a sort of "Marty Sue," working in a top secret office with two earthy employees who like smoking weed and sipping Margaritas, including Dorian Harewood's Vietnam Vet, Gene, whose edgy bar-room stare-down at Boyce's openly liberal (and at that time, poplar) opinion against the war is as intense as some of the scenes concerning the polar opposite of Hutton's smart and calculating climber...

Deer in headlines
In that, Sean Penn, with shabby clothes and with what resembles fake teeth, doing something of an imitation of, say, a method-acting Dustin Hoffman doing an imitation of an extremely flawed human being (the latter would be far more natural and less overboard, if this were made ten years earlier), is the idiot scapegoat, yet he takes the real risks by bringing top secret information into the Russian Embassy in Mexico where Boyce, when not hanging out with way-too-gorgeous girlfriend Lori Singer or setting his pet Falcon free (hence his nickname while Snowman refers to... his product). The latter's pet being shown swooping down onto weaker birds when, recorded by cops at the very end, describes how America stealthily attacks weaker nations, the falcon shown during the monologue, which could have been a Walter Mondale campaign ad. Proving once again the Man from Mars, if watching a thousand movies, would think we, Americans, existed within the biggest Hell on Earth compared to other more ambiguously shown regions, like Russia, Cuba, etc., who aren't even allowed to show any kind of truth, through literature or movies, about the shortcomings of their particular political (modern) troubles. But what's really left out of FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN is liken to watching a movie about Clyde before he meets his preverbial Bonnie.

The real truth in the sequel
FLIGHT OF THE FALCON is author Robert Lindsey's action-packed, mesmerizing sequel concerning Boyce's escape from prison; both biographical novels which came out before the movie's script was even written... so Hutton could have read each to get into the character, keeping inside what happens later-on when his "character" becomes a bank robber, coldly sticking guns in people's faces, cocking the trigger and, while not killing anyone, is surely about to and would have if they didn't comply: thus changing their lives, either way. Yet he doesn't seem to have this subliminally evil potential at all, acting more like the curious, sweet-natured boy next door who happened upon a discovery (or two) that gave him a reason to wage Revenge on the nefarious post-60's/Watergate Era America.

Daulton Lee gets nabbed
Also in FLIGHT OF THE FALCON, Boyce's 11th hour desperation to fly to Russia in a small plane from Alaska is scoffed at by the Soviet Union, who were well done with this "useful idiot" after his original hey-day that, in the first book, is topnotch and far more honest a character-study than the glossy and overly idealistic motion picture; the book showing two extremely spoiled young men (in FLIGHT, Boyce can be a downright boob) taking advantage of the system and their easy way inside closed doors, Boyce in particular: completely screwing his beloved FBI Security World War II vet father, and yet, still, as far as the film is concerned, overall, with intense direction by MIDNIGHT COWBOY auteur John Schlesinger... although morphing a true biographical story of two rich kids making big bucks as traitors channeled into a narrowed, investigative plot on a Conservative Party coverup in Australia while also screwing a myriad of allies, FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN is a pretty good flick, providing nicely directed moments of intrigue by a curious Boyce while Sean Penn's moody, unglued Lee, selling drugs on his own before eventually, his klutzy Curly to Moe's perfect spy is part of the best and most entertaining/enthralling scenes: Lee becoming more and more unpopular in Mexico...

Sean Penn
Back to the beginning, one drug bust in particular, featuring Lee's partner played by FANDANGO acid head skydiver Marvin J. Mcintyre (also the third runner along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Yaphet Kotto in THE RUNNING MAN) while a few groovy Doobie Brothers tunes play on the background radio, stands out with intense realism as the coke dealers are so zoned-out and desperate for sales, they can't realize two perfect looking blonde guys from, all of places, Irvine, California, with brand new head-bands and cut arm-sleeves, aren't narcs, giving the flawed and overall pointless Daulton the option to delve into the "traitor" business, where he still steals scenes and, as mentioned earlier, takes the real risks...

Dorian Harewood
Covering a lion's share of cinematic suspense over Hutton, whose relationship with FOOTLOOSE beauty Lori Singer (at that time, a second-string Daryl Hannah) is thoroughly bland, obviously existing to have a stock love interest as well as a moral compass; although her arrow points the same direction as does his, the scriptwriter, and director: But that's par for the course in Hollywood... and the motion picture must have moved President Bill Clinton, who pardoned both spies in the 1990's. After all, the Cold War was over, so he really freed an unapologetic drug dealer and a cold-blooded bank robber. And somehow, after watching the entire film, you'll be glad... deep down... that they're free... That's how movies can move you. Especially one that, although encroached by political fantasy over gritty realism, is a visual page-turner from beginning to end. So perhaps hiring a British director wasn't accidental. And, sometimes, he's a great one at that. The iconic, Oscar Winning MIDNIGHT COWBOY aside, prepare yourselves for a Cult Film Freak four-star review of his road trip comedy HONKY TONK FREEWAY, which, sorry folks, is John's second best motion picture • And like AT CLOSE RANGE, a thriller starring Sean Penn, his brother Christopher (later, after RESERVOIR DOGS, known as) Chris Penn played his little brother... and while Chris Makepeace was a brilliant child actor in MY BODYGUARD and pretty good in MEATBALLS, he was plain awful here as Penn's frightened little bro, so, Chris was very needed.

RATING: ***1/2
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