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Overall Rating
2

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad100%
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1 review, 0 user ratings



Agency
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by Jack Sommersby

"The Six Million Dollar Man Working in Advertising"
2 stars

The film starts out OK for about 30 minutes before it dwindles down to banality.

The Canadian production Agency tries to be a thriller and a meditation on the dangers of subliminal-message advertising, but it fails on both counts due to mediocre direction and a screenplay that catches the tail-end of an intriguing subject yet doesn't suitably develop it. Lee Majors stars as Phillip Morgan, the creative director of a top-echelon ad agency that's recently been bought out by ex-Washington D.C. media consultant Ted Quinn (Robert Mitchum). Before long, half of Morgan's crew has been replaced, and Morgan's best friend and coworker Sam Goldstein (Saul Rubinek) suspects their new boss isn't quite what he seems and is up to no good. Murder, not too surprisingly, ensues. The director, George Kaczender, has a decent eye for composition and keeps the story chugging along at a fairly okay pace. What he direly lacks, however, is the talent to conjure up and sustain suspense -- while some of the film's humor is welcome, there's a bit too much, so instead of being consistently involved in the story we're brought up short on more than a few occasions because we keep feeling we're taking the threat of danger a lot more seriously than most of the characters. And the writing is negligible, too: plot holes, little in the way of ratiocination, bum dialogue. It's as if the filmmakers hadn't thought the material through enough, that they were so taken by the story premise that they needn't worry about incidentals like character and plausible happenstances. Luckily, some of the acting makes up for some of this. Majors is immensely appealing as the hero, Rubineck has a marvelous alert reserve, Valerie Perrine (as Morgan's girlfriend) is rather enchanting, and Franz Russell does a honey of a turn as an overweight ad buyer whose greatest challenge is sucking his stomach in enough to button his suit jacket. Robert Mitchum is a disappointment, though: sleepwalking doesn't begin to describe his lethargic, boat-payment performance that's right out of a wax museum. Overall, Agency is never boring, and it manages a few good scenes to its credit (like Morgan taunting a motorcycle gang with obscene words and gestures when he's trapped in the back seat of a car with Quinn's goons), but there are way too many serious flaws to make it recommendable for anything other than a rainy Sunday afternoon sans golf on TV.

(Note: Is there some quintessential Canadian fixation on fish tanks? In 1979's serial-killer thriller Stone Cold Dead the hero cop has a fish tank in his apartment that director George Mendeluk keeps doing close-ups of. In Agency Mitchum's villain keeps one in his luxurious office that gets the close-up treatment as well. If the answer to that question is no, then perhaps at film school one of their teachers pounded into their heads that all future directors with the first name of George must give all fish their due on the silver screen. Either that or Kaczender simply cribbed it from Mendeluk's film that was released the year before.)

Worth renting, I guess, if you're enamored of lines like, "This safe's tougher to crack than a bull's ass."

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14166&reviewer=327
originally posted: 03/17/06 08:00:22
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USA
  19-Aug-1981 (R)
  DVD: 15-May-2002

UK
  02-Oct-1981 (15)

Australia
  02-Oct-1981




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