I’ve got to be honest here. I had to re-watch this movie because in 1999 when I watched it originally, it didn’t make a damn bit of sense to me. Things are a little better 14 years later, a lot more made sense. We invariably classify movies and I believe this one falls into the best car chases. The notion of ex-KGB clashing with Sinn Fein IRA-members in a movie that premiered in September 1998 (5 months after the Good Friday Agreement) ending in the death of Seamus O’Rourke leading to peaceful negotiations was fairly prescient of J.D. Zeik and David Mamet. Let’s not discourage ourselves by considering the also foresighted Mamet movie Wag the Dog movie (go read American Hero by Larry Beinhart or The Gulf War Did Not Take Place by Jean Baudrillard). Perhaps better to entertain ourselves with some of his more recent work.
It’s interesting to find another reference to the man in the wheelchair. I checked into media tropes and it appears that Genius Cripple and Evil Cripple may play a role but in two movies about intelligence/the CIA/paramilitary operations/conspiracy that there is a shadowy, wheelchair bound character is interesting.
At first glance it comes across as an interesting although nonchalantly accessible paramilitary spy action movie it sort of turns into a CIA infiltrated exploitation of your then expectations. It was interesting to see how much of a dick de Niro’s character was in the initial stages until he was able to assume de facto control over the operation from Deirdre. There were certainly parallels to actual historical events of the past few decades as you follow the ethnic/national alignments of the characters being symbolic for greater forces and greater themes.
Kryptos moment: None. It’s just an interesting proto-“CIA fighting terrorists” movie coming in the sucking vacuum of the decline of the Soviet Union as the enemy in these types of movies in the 90’s. They’re still there but now as opportunistic, capitalistic ex-KGB.
Notable moment: The 47 Ronin folktale.
Follow-up Notable moment: When you realize Sam is not actually a Ronin figure and is after a different case entirely.