Falcon and the Snowman, The (1985)

“I had no idea the extent of the lie — the level of deception.”

Synopsis:
The son (Timothy Dalton) of an FBI employee (Pat Hingle) becomes disenchanted in his new job as a military contract clerk when he learns about America’s direct interference in Australian politics, and enlists the help of his childhood friend (Sean Penn) in selling secrets to a Soviet agent (David Suchet) at an embassy in Mexico.

Genres:

Review:
Based on the true story of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee (former altar boys who became the youngest convicted spies in American history), this espionage thriller plays like a direct precursor to the travails of Edward Snowden* — albeit with less immediate relevance to current generations of film fanatics, and less sympathetic characters. As noted by DVD Savant:

“The disorganized and thoughtless way [Boyce and Lee] went about their ‘business’ makes them amateur spies, thoughtless traitors and tragic fools.”

The film itself, however, is a well-directed tale (by John Schlesinger) of how these privileged — and, in the case of Boyce, well-intentioned — kids got caught up in something much bigger than they anticipated, and how their families struggled to make sense of their choices. Interested viewers will want to check out a Dateline interview with Boyce, who was released in 2002 and now primarily spends his time with falconry. He’s admitted:

“You know, you’re not so smart when you’re 21 years old. You’re not that wise. And yeah, I was mad as hell and full of myself — and preposterous in a lot of ways. Decided to start my own one-man war against Central Intelligence. What sense does that make?”

* Snowden… Snowman… Hmmmm. Weird coincidence. Actually, “snowman” refers to Lee’s cocaine use.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Sean Penn as Daulton Lee

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look. Listed as a Sleeper and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

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