This one caught my attention the other day when I assembled the missing
parts of Theresa Russell's career. It's kind of a grade-B version of Three
Days of the Condor, in that a top government spook (Russell) with an avian
code name (The Dove this time, rather than The Condor) is trying to escape
from her own section chief, who is trying to kill her.
The Dove has written a tell-all book, albeit for therapy, not for
publication. Her job as a spy requires her to perform unsavory sexual
practices, and she is trying to come to grips with that by writing out an
explanation for why she does it. She's completely patriotic and has written
the book exclusively for her own eyes and those of her shrink, but the head
spooks don't trust that the book will remain unpublished, and just can't
afford to have it in existence at all. Moreover, the section chief realizes
that she is trying to leave the agency, and ... well, as they say in movie
after movie, "Nobody gets out."
In the course of her flight, she stumbles into a discredited explosives
expert (Scott Glenn) who is facing civil and criminal liability for a building
implosion that killed a homeless woman and her young daughter who were living
in the basement. He is racked with guilt, feels like he has nothing left to
lose, and is just forlorn enough to join forces with The Dove in her elaborate
plan to get away and start a new life.
It's a standard thriller which would be a typical made-for-video film if it
featured unknowns, but is marked by the presence of some known performers. In
addition to Russell and Glenn, the film features Alex Rocco and Joey Pants in
roles so tiny they are barely more than cameos. The Spy Within is the one and
only film ever directed by actor Steve Railsback, and I assume that he got
some of his acting associates to participate in the film out of friendship
The plot has little credibility, and the actor playing Russell's superior
is totally unconvincing as a hardened NSA operative, but the film is not
without its guilty pleasures. There are some interesting action sequences, The
Dove's escape scheme has a couple of nice (if implausible) twists, and the
leads have some steamy sex and shower scenes.
It's not a great film, but I got through the entire
story without fast-forwarding or taking any breaks, and I always consider that a
sign that a genre film will meet at least the bare minimum requirements for
those inclined to enjoy this sort of film.
If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to
explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by
our definition, a
C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs
and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a: