Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Only now does it occur to me... THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND

Only now does it occur to me... that as we prepare for the long holiday weekend, the question we must ask ourselves is, "Shall we make this weekend an OSTERMAN WEEKEND?"  The answer is, indubitably, that we should and shall not

Technically Sam Peckinpah's swansong (based on a Robert Ludlum novel), THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND is a spy thriller with one of the greatest casts ever assembled:  

Burt Lancaster (BRUTE FORCE, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, SEVEN DAYS IN MAY) playing as close an approximation to Alexander Haig as possible without being litigious:
 
Rutger Hauer (BLADE RUNNER, FLESH + BLOOD, BLIND FURY) in his first role as an "American," playing a television talking-head who's plunged into cloak n' dagger intrigue:
Meg Foster (she of the famous ice-blue eyes in THEY LIVE, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, and BLIND FURY) as a bow-hunting aficionado
who is married to Rutger (so BLIND FURY was really just an OSTERMAN WEEKEND reunion?):
John Hurt (he of the velvet voice from I, CLAUDIUS; ALIEN, WATERSHIP DOWN, THE ELEPHANT MAN, and MIDNIGHT EXPRESS) as a manipulated CIA lackey
 
who appears from time to time inside your microwave oven:
(I know it's not really a microwave, but still)

Dennis Hopper (BLUE VELVET, EASY RIDER, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE)  as a creepy businessman with an RV (what else would he be?):
Craig T. Nelson (COACH, ACTION JACKSON) as a beefy, mustachioed man
 
who at one point enthusiastically strangles Rutger Hauer with a ball bat:
and Chris Sarandon (FRIGHT NIGHT, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, DOG DAY AFTERNOON) as a hot-tub frequenting, morally dubious crony.
It's no ninja hot tub, nor is it a Calamity Jane hot tub

Unfortunately, neither Peckinpah nor the amazing cast can save OSTERMAN from being the blandest of bland Cold War thrillers––it's a generic, exhausting mess that doesn't deliver in the suspense, coherence, or action departments.  The lack of compelling action is especially notable given that Peckinpah has never skimped when given the opportunity (he once said that BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA was the only film of his that didn't involve destructive studio interference).
Perhaps Peckinpah's original cut is worth our time (he was fired during post-production) but frankly, even if I could get my hands on it, I don't think I could get it up for anything OSTERMAN WEEKEND-related for a long while.
John Hurt will voice his disapproval with the most mellifluous voice in cinema.

If you're in the mood for some 80s spy action, allow me to recommend instead CLOAK & DAGGER, GOTCHA, THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN, or Grace Jones in A VIEW TO A KILL instead.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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