Three Days of the Condor Blu-ray Review
The Original Winter Soldier.
Forty years before Captain America went on the run from a conspiracy within the Government, Robert Redford’s Condor did the very same thing, in the story that would later be reimagined as Winter Soldier.When all of his work colleagues are wiped out by an unknown hit squad, CIA bookworm Joe Turner – codename “Condor” – goes into hiding, soon realising that it is almost impossible to find anybody whom he can trust, as betrayals from upper echelons reveal conspiracies within conspiracies, and seemingly no way out. With no field experience, and a highly trained assassin in hot pursuit, will Condor be able to stay alive and get to the truth? Several of acclaimed director Sydney Pollack’s features were conspiracy thrillers (including The Firm and Michael Clayton), and of his seven collaborations with the legendary Robert Redford, this is arguably the best, a highlight in both of their impressive careers, and one of a number of 70s conspiracy-era greats, often partnered with Pakula’s duo, the Warren Beatty vehicle The Parallax View, and another Redford flick, All the President’s Men.Pollack certainly directs the hell out of this piece, cranking up tension in the most unlikely circumstances, and subverting expectations from your usual thriller (spy or otherwise), with a sharp and memorable script playing up the still-topical government conspiracies. If Winter Soldier shook up the Marvel Universe for audience-goers, imagine what this did for the public back in post-Watergate America. With every character perfectly cast, and even the smallest bit-part on-point before the camera, it’s really down the three or four main players to carry the piece; Dunaway is both electric and vulnerable as a seemingly innocent bystander caught up in this web, whilst Max Von Sydow provides his trademark suave menace as a master assassin trailing the Condor. It’s Redford’s baby though, ultimately, with his excellent spy work here rivaled only by his cunning machinations in the Tony Scott thriller Spy Game.
Picture QualityThree Days of the Condor makes an impressive UK Blu-ray debut courtesy of Eureka, whose Region B-locked disc provides a “new high definition presentation” which seems, by implication, not to have been privy to any remastering. Nevertheless, a new encode appears likely as this 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, is a considerable step up over the previous US and French releases from more than half a decade back, both of which had their own individual flaws.
Although far from perfect, this is likely the best this 40 year old movie has ever looked.
Eureka’s ‘new’ presentation still has a little softness here and there, and isn’t without a few niggling reservations, but overall it looks very good indeed, with a healthy layer of suitably filmic grain pervading most of the scenes, and strong black levels which only occasionally dip that little bit too deep and, for the most part, manage shadow detail well. The colour scheme is faithfully rendered, and many individual shots and scenes look outright excellent, with close ups particularly impressive. It may not be perfect, and it certainly doesn’t stand up as well in darker mid-range shots, but it’s probably still an upgrade over previous imports.
Sound QualityThe two main English tracks on offer - a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 upgrade - appear to be the same as on prior releases, however that’s no big issue as there were no significant problems with either.
Eureka’s audio tracks also provide a solid accompaniment to the feature.
There’s little in it between the two tracks, which are both heavily front-dominated, but the reworked six-channel affair is slightly less crowded, promoting dialogue more cleanly without as much background interference from the rest of the elements on the array. Despite the limitations of both tracks, effects are well-represented, the aforementioned dialogue is rendered with clarity and precision, and the score, with its Jazz-dominated bookends, provides a healthy backing. With no obvious defects, this may well not be demo material, but it’s a solid presentation nonetheless.
ExtrasA number of previously-available extras were not added to this package, but nonetheless Eureka does a solid job with what it has.
Headlined by an Exclusive New Interview with film historian Sheldon Hall, the other big extra is The Directors: Sydney Pollack, a retrospective on the director’s work across his career. Of course Eureka also provide their trademark accompanying booklet, a 32-page affair which sports essays, interview articles and stills from the film.
Verdict"Maybe there's another CIA... inside the CIA".
Three Days of the Condor is a classic and a masterpiece, and still inspiring modern gems over four decades later, this outstanding Redford/Pollack collaboration finally reaches UK home audiences for the first time ever. Eureka does a tremendous job too, providing arguably the best HD video presentation currently available worldwide. It's an easy call for fans, but newcomers should consider this a must-have addition to the collection.
You can buy Three Days of the Condor on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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