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CONDOR gets 7/10 Taking flight


S1 Ep1 What Loneliness

Creators: Todd Katzberg, Ken Robinson, Jason Smilovic

7/10

Inspired by Three Days of The Condor (1975), Condor is a re-imagining of Sydney Pollack’s classic spy thriller. Brought into the modern era, it still follows the story of CIA analyst Joe Turner (Max Irons) as he is plunged into a battle for his life, when his entire office is murdered to protect a secret that he has uncovered. Now Turner is on the run, attempting to avoid the authorities, and the assassins that caused the carnage, as he tries to uncover the conspiracy at the heart of things.

Whereas the original was inspired by the world post-Watergate, Condor is post post-9/11. It is a world of threat analysis algorithms, hackable data, and GPS tracking. It is a very different political and technological landscape, and it will be interesting to see how this show handles and utilises that. We can already see hints that this will be substantively different (with one operation already seen as a False Flag obscuring a larger plan), but it will also be curious to see how Condor hides himself in this world of increased surveillance.

The initial episode does a good job of setting this up, both in the explanation of the wider plot that Turner is unintentionally caught in, and in plunging him into the action at the very end. However in this post Homeland landscape it also does nothing extraordinary to recommend itself. The pacing of the episode builds at an appropriate level, culminating in the nicely staged action sequence (the hit upon the boutique intelligence office that Turner is stationed at), but as a stand alone episode, it really is an amuse bouche – just a taste of what is to come.

What that will be is still nebulous, but it does appear that Condor will question our acceptance of a surveillance state, and the liberties we have sacrificed in the face of protection from a terrorist threat. We’ve already seen this line of questioning play out between Turner and his Uncle Bob (William Hurt), obviously as the scale of the conspiracy is revealed, and as the misuse of such programs is uncovered that theme will grow. So far there has been some nuance in the handling of this, and it will be curious to see if that continues.

Irons does a good job as Turner. Believably athletic and charismatic, he may be less nebbish that Redford’s version of the character, but still has that feel of an analyst pushed into extraordinary circumstances. The gender flipped Joubert, played by Leem Lubany (Omar), is a bit less successful, coming across more as a cheesy Bond villain rather than cold-blooded professional assassin.

Early days, but a solid start for the series. With ten episodes, in comparison to the two hour run-time of the film, it will be intriguing to see how Condor expands and elaborates on the source material, and how things diverge.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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