Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent' (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent' (1996)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The sophomore directing effort by Dangerous Liaisons screenwriter Christopher Hampton, following Carrington, The Secret Agent is a well-performed but dramatically sluggish adaptation of the novel by Joseph Conrad. Set in London during the late 1880s, the film centers around Verloc; owner of a small pornography shop, he is a spy in the service of the Russian government. Far from the glamorous modern image of the secret agent, Verloc is a mere functionary who writes regular reports on a group of exiled anarchists he has infiltrated and does little else. The changing political mood, however, has led his supervisor to demand results. In order to encourage a British crackdown on anarchists, Verloc is ordered to stage a bombing of the Royal Observatory. The attack does not go as planned, however, resulting in tragedy for Verloc and his family, particularly his beautiful young wife Winnie and his mentally challenged stepson Stevie. Straddled uneasily between the strategies of a traditional suspense film and a more distant flashback structure, the film never achieves a confident dramatic momentum. Regardless, there are numerous strong performances, including a notably unnerving supporting turn by Robin Williams as an obsessive, potentially suicidal explosives expert.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Christopher Hampton
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 7, 2005
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment


Bob Hoskins
as Adolph Verloc
George Spelvin
as Professor
Jim Broadbent
as Chief Insp. Heat
Eddie Izzard
as Vladimir
Elizabeth Spriggs
as Winnie's mother
Robin Williams
as The Professor
Peter Vaughan
as The Driver
Julian Wadham
as The Assistant Commis...
Roger Hammond
as Michaelis
Neville Phillips
as Ticket Clerk
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent'

Critic Reviews for Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent'

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (7)

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | November 8, 1996
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

January 22, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 22, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent'

Let's review: Christian Bale plays a retard who gets blown up by a bomb, Bob Hoskins gets knifed in the chest, Eddie Izzard has the worst Russian accent of all time, Robin Williams is uncredited and plays a terrorist, and Patricia Arquette plays a brittish woman making her terrible teeth acceptable. What's the point of all this? Nobody knows. A bunch of stuff happens and then the movie ends, but it wasn't un-enjoyable.

Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer


Maintains interest with story and great cast.

Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

Incredible cast, and incredibly disjointed story. They should have chucked the script and kept with Robin William's mad bomber character...

Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent' Quotes

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