The Company -- An early look
The Company is a six-hour movie that will air over three nights, beginning this Sunday at 8 pm on TNT. It stars Chris O'Donnell, Alfred Molina, and Michael Keaton as players in the early days of the CIA. It is based on the highly-acclaimed novel by Robert LIttell.
The story focuses on three Yale friends who join the spy business, two of them go to the CIA and one (the Russian) goes to the KGB. It is set during the beginning of the Cold War, starting with the 1950s and then to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
This movie has extremely high production value. Much of the scenes are shot with very little light, or appear grainy, as if we're watching a movie about the CIA during the actual time period that this movie takes place. And the acting is outstanding. Chris O'Donnell has the perfect look and attitude to play a novice CIA agent who falls in love with his beautiful contact in Berlin. Alfred Molina plays a veteran agent who is teaching O'Donnell's character the ropes of the spy business. He conceives of certain spy tactics that we've seen in dozens of films and television shows, such as telling all his contacts about a meeting to root out a mole. Michael Keaton doesn't get a lot of face time, but he also does a great job of playing a CIA executive who is overly-suspicious of everyone he encounters.
Another co-star is Rory Cochrane, who we knew as Tim Speedle on CSI: Miami. He plays the Russian college friend who becomes a spy for the KGB and then a plant inside the United States. His character is very toned down from the over-the-top Miami. He plays his role with patience and subtlety, and it's very effective-- and also quite creepy.
Night 1 of this movie reminds me of a Caleb Carr novel. The set and costumes are all very detailed for the time period of this film. The spy business is still quite new to the U.S. and Russia, so the characters are essentially working from their gut instincts rather than from any formal training. The first two hours of the series are when the CIA and the KGB relationship begins to fail and the agents essentially pursue each other through the streets of Berlin.
Night 1 moves quite slowly as we watch the characters get comfortable in their roles as spies and make mistakes-- by falling in love with their contacts or falling in love in general (Women! They complicate everything!). This night is more of a historical look at how the CIA refined its spy operations and how its relationship with the KGB became fractured.
Nights 2 and 3 promise to provide less dialogue and more action as the story takes the agents through the Hungarian uprising of 1956, the Bay of Pigs, and ending in the fall of the Soviet Union. The third night has CIA agents frantically searching within their own agency for the elusive KGB mole who has been undermining the CIA for decades.
If you're interested in the history of the CIA, or in general history about the Cold War, you will find this movie intriguing. The initial two hours move somewhat slowly but they cover some interesting history. Plus, the acting, the dialogue and the general look of The Company is top-notch.