The Formula (1980)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
With George C. Scott and Marlon Brando heading the cast, The Formula should have been far better than it is. Adapted by Steve Shagan from his own best-selling novel, the film is predicated on the concept that a formula for synthetic fuel had been developed by the Nazis during WW II. In the intervening 35 years since the war's end, the formula has disappeared and several people connected with it have died under mysterious circumstances. Also during this period, oil magnate Adam Steiffel (Marlon Brando) had commiserated with one of the decedents. Police officer Barney Caine (George C. Scott), a friend of the dead man, hopes to solve the mystery, and in so doing gets mixed up in a wide-ranging conspiracy to manipulate worldwide fuel prices. Reportedly, The Formula underwent a great deal of editing-room surgery before its release. If so, the editors certainly erred in retaining so many of the film's interminable "steadicam" sequences. … More
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as Barney Caine
as Adam Steiffel
as Dr. Esau
as Hans Lehman
as Maj. Neeley
as Gestapo Captain
as Franz Tauber
as Sgt. Yosuta
as Vince Rizzo
as U.S. Army Captain
as Geologist #2
as Security Guard
as Pool Man
as Concierge (German)
as Geologist #3
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Critic Reviews for The Formula
its completely muddled plot is a disaster: There can be no joy in unraveling a plot that is a mystery even to itself.
The murder scene is littered with so many red herrings it might as well be a delicatessen.
Audience Reviews for The Formula
I didn't think a movie staring two such great actors would be this boring, but wow, it could not keep my interest at all. Not even sure what the plot was supposed to be.
This started out as a WWII Film and I was just sitting down and getting ready to enjoy what looked to be a somewhat promising war movie, when all of a sudden we were throw forward by a number of years. That was the first surprise. Anyway George C Scott plays a LA Cop who uncovers a plot involving a Nazi Formula for Synthetic Fuel. The second Surprise was that Hollywood was still doing a Nazi theme in 1980, the third and final surprise was that the oil Tycoon was none other then Marlon Brando, I sure didn't recognize him. Scott travels to Berlin to try and track down the ring responsible for his friends death. There's plenty of good acting and action, and if you consider the film date 1980 its a thriller worth 3 1/2 stars.
Even though he's being fed his lines through a visible hearing aid, Marlon Brando still pulls off an excellent performance that serves as the highlight of this flop. George C. Scott fights to pull a compelling character out of an essentially hollow protagonist, and he does a pretty good job overall. The film itself is muddled, confusing and extremely tedious. The mystery never really adds up to anything, and by the end I simply didn't care anymore.
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