Swipe right on Condor: This classic remake is worth your time, in spite of its many flaws
'Condor' has its flaws but it is consistently getting better with each episode. In spite of its loopholes, the series is a fantastic watch for a one time thing. Swipe right.
Remakes of the classics is always a risky move. More often than not, it tends to go south. Be it a book adaption or a film one, there's always a very high chance that it would disappoint the viewers. Audience network's 'Condor' is a televised version of the 1975 film 'Three Days of Condor' which was based on a novel by James Grady called 'Six Days of Condor'.
The film was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel and was directed by the legendary Sidney Pollack. One can imagine the pressure to perform on the series creators Todd Katzburg, Jason Smilovic, and Ken Robinson. It is really hard to deliver when you are expected to do justice to a multiple Academy Award winner's works.
When the series premiered this month, it got a lot of mixed reactions, most of which dwelled on the fact that it was terribly acted out. One cannot deny that the remake has its overacted moments and misplaced casting. Would 'Condor' be more believable had it been someone other than Max Irons, who played young techie Joe Turner, stuck in a chaotic world of the CIA? Probably yes, but since we are just on the third episode of the season, I'd give Irons the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, he will grow on us.
While it is not just Irons' lack of connection to the character that has let down the show, it is also most of the techies that end up being wiped out in the CIA's secret office. While they aren't recurring and were put there to just get shot in their heads and backs, it is still a rookie mistake to introduce a show with bad acting. If one doesn't like the appetizers, why would anyone stay for dessert?
There's also plenty of haphazard changes in the story, maybe because it had to be revamped. For example, Turner hides in Kathy H's house, a stranger he went on one Tinder date with and expects her to understand. Maybe this would have been an okay thing in 1975 when audiences weren't so woke but in the era of Netflix, how is this not strange? Another instance is that of Bob Balaban, playing C.I.A. chieftain Reuel Abbott, of being quite helpless.
In the film, Turner is "just a guy who reads books". Portrayed by Robert Redford in the film, Turner is a CIA researcher who comes back from lunch, discovers all his co-workers murdered and after calling his superiors realizes that there is barely anyone he can trust. Turner's character is sassy, witty and totally cool in the 90's way - long locks, denim and the angst in place.
In this series, Turner is a computer whiz, who codes like no one else and is always running, no seriously. He runs after he's up, he runs to get to his friend's office and he runs away from the bad guys. Astounding physical fitness for someone who is written to be a guy who sits behind a desk. In one of his sneaky smoke breaks with a colleague (another change to match the new age), the shooting happens and they all die, except him. He escapes through the basement and thanks to his impeccably fast feet.
But, in spite of these flaws, 'Condor' will leave you wanting for more.
You don't know what to expect. 'Condor' has successfully retained its suspense, for sure. While this may be seen as a bad thing because the whole story seems quite disconnected, it starts to piece together as you get to episode 2. Especially if you haven't seen the film, this series will shock you at points. The precision with which the two assailants, especially Gabrielle Joubert (Leem Lubany) strikes is stellar - it's so quick, so cruel, so damn precise, it sets your heart racing.
While it is perhaps Irons' lack of experience in working with crime/spy dramas that he feels so disconnected; there is not a speck of doubt about the fact that he is trying really hard and it shows. He plays paranoid really well though. Who can be trusted? The CIA? strangers? His friends? It's like the first episode says, 'there is no greater loneliness than not being able to trust the ones around you'.
What is really nice about 'Condor' is also Turner's political stand. It's a conversation worth having - how much privacy do we really have and how flawed is the system that stereotypes. But then again, like in the first episode, stereotyping turns out to be true. So where do you draw the line? How much of aligning does one's moral compass need? If our worst fears are realized once would it be fair to act out the same way throughout, going forward? If in the last three episodes the show has spoken much about the political stands, expect a lot of mirroring from real issues going forward.
If you're a crime/spy drama buff like me, you will love this show anyway. There's plenty of shooting, action, running around, hiding, hostage situations and killing. There are also strategies involved - who will strike when and with what precision. Turner's just an analyst after all, so it will definitely be interesting to see how he copes with the situation going forward. He's already armed himself, but we know, from past experiences that it will not be enough.
The first season has 10 episodes and we are already on the third one. In the next seven, it would be safe to assume we will see him rise like a phoenix. There's definitely some loss involved and the show is bound to kill off someone as a shock value.
Another character who is really worth watching is Joubert - she's so ruthless and guilt-free - she's the perfect killer. One of best performances in this show has to be by Brendan Fraser who plays Nathan Fowler, the middleman. Fraser's portrayal of Fowler is awfully good. You find him creepy, he's not someone you'd want to be friends with, he's full of secrets but there's also a side of him that makes you feel sorry for the poor guy.
To live under the shadow of a famous father can be tough and the way it has clearly affected him is sad. His character changes quite a bit from the time we see him burying prairie dogs to him transporting a suspicious looking briefcase and he makes the transition look flawless. Fraser slips in and out of the nervous nerdy character like a glove.
'Condor' has its flaws but it is consistently getting better with each episode. Although not a classic and in spite of its loopholes, the series is a fantastic watch for a one-time thing.
'Condor' airs on AT&T Audience Network, every Wednesday at 10pm.