The Falcon and the Snowman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Falcon and the Snowman Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 8, 2011
The Falcon and the snowman is fairly good thriller. The story surrounds two friends who sell U.S government secrets to the Soviet Union. The Falcon and the Snowman has a good mix of drama thrown into it's real life thrilling story. The acting by Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton is very good. But by today's stndards with the Cold War over, the film looks dated of course. However there's something still appealing, and interesting about this story. The film is not perfect by any means, and does look a little cheap, but for what it is, The Falcon and the Snowman is a thriller worth watching. For the espionage buff and the cold war buffs out there, The Falcon and the Snowman is a very interesting film and will definitely appeal to them. There are of course better thrillers out there, but this is still a very engaging film with tense moments But considering that this was made in the 80's, what do you expect? A good, entertaining thriller, but it's nothing truly groundbreaking or really memorable. I've seen a lot better. I wasn't disappointed in the film, as I knew what to expect, but what is a little irritating is how much praise the film has gotten. I view it as an average good thriller with good acting. But some critiques of the film have gone overboard and prtaising it and saying it was a pulse pounding film. It was, but it lacked also enough fire in it's belly to make this truly a remarkable film.
Super Reviewer
June 8, 2009
Badly dated, but still a mostly solid political thriller with sure-handed direction by John Schlesinger. Zaillian's screenplay isn't perfect, but it moves at an effective pace and works well for the most part. Features great acting from Timothy Hutton and a young Sean Penn.
Super Reviewer
½ October 3, 2009
This movie looks and "feels" outdated, really "80ish". At times I felt like I was watching a TV show from that era. That aside, the story is a bit slow, but Daulton Lee's character (played by Sean Penn) is too captivating to resist this movie. As he ups the stakes of the game, he manages to continue weaseling his way out of binds with his smooth-talking, savvy, rhetorical tactics. In an "Informant" kind of way, this has plenty of entertainment value. Schlesinger really seals the deal with a finely directed and edited climax that helps this story come full circle and sheds light on the ways the characters come to term with their actions.
½ June 25, 2013
Solid political bi-opic which just falls short of a thriller. The lack of a final moral statement allows the audience to draw its own conclusions as to whether these young men were selfless patriots, greedy criminals, sellouts, iealistic rubes, or a little of each. This film remains relevant in light of the wiki-leaks scandals.
March 2, 2013
"They came from two excellent families. They became the two most infamous political criminals...EVER."

"Winess treason at it's most destructive.."

A hypnotizing true tale of thorough intensity, a tale aIbout treason at it's most revealing. The Falcon And The Snowman is an utterly absorbing film that, really keeps you glued to your seat throughout. An endlessly remarkable film that highlights the true story of two men and their treasonous schemes to sell very revealing, abeit, lucrative government intelligence documents to the Russian KGB. A film that really has not aged too well at all, yet it is truly effective in delivering and spectacularly and thoroughly engaging storyline. Director John Schlesinger (Yanks, Marathon Man) teamed up with acclaimed and profound screenwriter Steve Zaillian to bring us this extremely tense and astonishingly suspenseful true story back to life for all to see on the big screen with cerebral precision and minimal flaw throughout. The Falcon And The Snowman is no doubt as effective and realistic as it gets when delivering a factual account. Viewers can undoubtedly count on eye popping and amped up action sequences, a pulse pounding and adrenaline inducing storyline as well as the facts, pure and simple delivered for you right in front of your very eyes. An intelligent, snappy, witty, entertaining and solid outing from Schlesinger and company. One of the very best espionage thrillers that you will ever see.
Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton Co star and each bring their own unique traits to each scene. These two are great at what they do.
½ August 11, 2012
We were altar boys together

Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee were best friends growing up. Daulton was a trouble maker and Chris was a solid student who earns a job in the CIA. Once Chris works in a division to obtain secrets, he works with Daulton to sell the secrets to the Soviets. Things get real deep real fast and Chris and Daulton will have to work flawlessly to keep their heads above water.

"There's a lot easier ways to make a living."

John Schlesinger, director of Pacific Heights, Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Day of the Locust, Marathon Man, and Honky Tonk Freeway, delivers The Falcon and the Snowman. The storyline for this picture is very good. The primary plot, character development, script, and acting is all outstanding. The cast delivers wonderful performances and includes Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton, Pat Hingle, and Joyce Van Patten.

"They don't need you anymore and they don't want you anymore."

I was looking for Sean Penn movies to DVR and this was the highest rated one airing that I had not seen. This is a very good movie and Penn delivers his role perfectly. I loved the two primary characters and felt they played off each other perfectly. This is definitely a must see movie that may be worth adding to your DVD collection.

"Want a margarita?"

Grade: A-
July 15, 2012
And This Is Why Drug Dealers Aren't Good Spies

I am generally more inclined to be merciful on films that don't seem to have high aspirations. This movie isn't trying to be Great Art. Okay, it's relying on star power, which it only sort of has. Still, this movie was made in the sweet spot between [i]Fast Times at Ridgemont High[/i] and [i]Shanghai Surprise[/i], so there's that. But anyway, it's not trying as hard to be exciting as a lot of movies I've seen, and it manages to be pretty good at being exactly what it's trying to be. Now, of course, I tend to be inclined to give these same movies less credit when they succeed, simply because they have reduced ambitions, but still. I found this movie a bit boring, but I never really thought it was all that bad, because it wasn't doing anything exciting and experimental which got on my nerves instead. It's not exactly a taut espionage thriller, either, but it tells the story it has simply and well enough. It's a little sad that the movie doesn't even mention in passing how crazy the story later got, though I suppose that would be a bit much for the story we have.

Christopher Boyce (Timothy Hutton) and Andrew Daulton Lee (Sean Penn) were children of privilege. They grew up together in one of the tonier neighbourhoods in Southern California. They were altar boys together. Christopher has just dropped out of the seminary and is kind of at loose ends, except for his interest in falconry. Daulton is a drug dealer with a cocaine habit to match. Christopher's father, Charlie (Pat Hingle), gets him a job working for defense contractor RTX (really TRW). Christopher goes to work in the "black vault," where all sorts of secret information is kept and where the teletype machines broadcast even more. And indeed, every once in a while, wires get crossed, and RTX gets messages intended for the CIA. It is there that he discovers that the CIA is working to oust the Prime Minister of Australia. Christopher does a little research and is properly horrified by the whole thing. He decides that the best thing to do is to get Daulton to go down to Mexico and start selling information to the Soviets in the person of embassy staffer Alex (David Suchet). Mysteriously enough, things start to unravel, not least because Daulton isn't Mr. Reliability.

Mind you, all of this is based on a true story. In fact, finding out what happened later makes Christopher a considerably less sympathetic character. The movie mentions that Christopher got forty years and Daulton got life; this is generally agreed to be because of Daulton's prior criminal record. This despite the fact that he never would have gotten into espionage without Christopher. How could he? But of interest is the fact that Christopher is the one who later escaped from prison and went on an actual crime spree. Bank robbing, in fact. It's believed that his intention was to raise the money to escape to the Soviet Union, though he was arrested in Port Angeles, Washington. They moved Daulton (who upon his release became Sean Penn's personal assistant, believe it or not) to a different prison because of it. As it is in this movie, though, Christopher got into the whole thing over ideals. He didn't like what the US government was doing and thought this was the way to balance accounts. Daulton was in it for the money.

I am unclear as to why David Suchet was cast. Because, let's face it, he is not convincingly Russian. I admit, I was waiting for him to shift into a prissy Belgian accent and grow ridiculous moustaches, but even leaving the Poirot thing aside, I just wasn't buying it. He also kind of comes across like the only adult in the whole piece. I don't just mean that Christopher and Daulton are mostly just spoiled kids. I mean that, when Christopher starts work in the black vault, Gene (Dorian Harewood) mixes him a margarita in the shredder. He goes to a strip club with his coworkers, including Laurie (Mady Kaplan). I know it would have been hard for Daulton's parents to turn him in when he came home for New Year's (they specify that he missed Christmas by a week), but by not doing it, they were actually harboring a fugitive. And how did he repay them? He let his younger brother (Chris Makepeace) get out of the car midway through the high speed chase with the cops. Alex seems to be the only responsible person out there, and I was waiting for him to start solving crimes.

The film makes a couple of brief stabs at giving us some character development, but really, this is one place where Daulton is a better character than Christopher. His motivations are clear. He's in it for the money, the same reason he probably got into drug dealing. Christopher is shown watching the Watergate hearings, and he does a bit of research on the political situation in Australia. So okay, he's trying. And they show that Daulton is reading a whole bunch of books about espionage--which combine with the drugs to make him paranoid, not better at what he's doing. And, yes, sneaking into the Soviet embassy in Mexico is probably the easiest way to get information to the Soviets, especially when you're coming to them with it. On the other hand, this means that they are doing their illegal activities [i]in Mexico[/i], where they have ways of getting information out of people that are not going to happen in the United States. In general--and avoiding all conversation about terror suspects if I can--the US cops are less inclined toward beating people with telephone books, you know?
½ January 13, 2011
Based on a true story. Not a TV movie, it certainly looks like one. This one is from no less than the director of Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man, John Schlesinger.* While starting as a rather unpretentous film, this true story of espionage is set in the 1960's U.S.

As a sixties film set in the Cold War between the Soviets and the U.S., these two young U.S. citizens are very much playing with fire. Sean Penn is a drug dealer in trouble with the FBI and his friend supplies him with CIA information. How they have the nerve to sell secret information is unfathonable. The first real problem with this film is the unexpected job opportunity given to our RAT, I mean our traitor, or spiller of the goods... is Tim Hutton.

Summing up the plot: Two ex-alter boys turn national traitors in this compelling, real-life drama. The idealistic son of an ex-FBI agent and his volatile, dope dealing friend, pull off the most brazen act of espionage since World War II when they sell some of America's most sensitive secrets to the KGB.

Timothy Hutton
Sean Penn
Pat Hingle
Richard Dysart
Dorian Harewood
Mady Kaplan
Chris Makepeace
Lori Singer
David Suchet

Production Designer: James D. Bissell
Executive Producer: John Daly
Cinematographer: Allen Daviau
Producer: Gabriel Katzka
Based on a Work by: Robert Lindsey
Editor: Richard Marden
Composer: Lyle Mays
Composer: Pat Methany
Co-Producer : Edward Teets

Director: John Schlesinger
Producer: John Sclesinger
Screenplay: Steve Zaillian

* Feature and television films of John Schlesinger (as Director)

A Kind of Loving (1962)
Billy Liar (1963)
Darling (1965)
Far From the Madding Crowd (1967)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Visions of Eight (1973)
The Day of the Locust (1975)
Marathon Man (1976)
Yanks (1979)
Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)
Privileged (1982)
Separate Tables (1983) (TV)
An Englishman Abroad (1983) (TV)
The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
The Believers (1987)
Madame Sousatzka (1988)
Pacific Heights (1990)
A Question of Attribution (1991) (TV)
The Innocent (1993)
Cold Comfort Farm (1995) (TV)
Eye for an Eye (1996)
The Tale of Sweeney Todd (1998) (TV)
The Next Best Thing (2000)
½ December 30, 2010
Although it has its flaws, its definitely an engaging thriller woth seeing at least once. Sean Penn gives a great performance as does Timothy Hutton, but Lori Singer's character is worthless and adds nothing to the story. Especially interesting since this was based on a true story.
January 19, 2009
Bad movie that had the potential to be great. I couldn't believe it when I saw John Schlesinger(the genius behind Midnight Cowboy) directed this. Talk about losing your touch. This was a very complicated exploration of some important issues that comes close to being gripping. Overall the script destroyed this. Sean Penn & Timothy Hutton were awesome for what they were given though.
January 28, 2010
Interesting, but not great. The paranoia stuff was good, but the movie drags in a lot of places. When it comes to Timothy Hutton/Sean Penn matchups, I prefer Taps.
December 8, 2009
A piece of history, hopefully a deterrent to anybody thinking about making a quick buck from Government information.
½ September 5, 2009
The Falcon and the Snowman (1985). This movie is good but dated spy thriller. its interesting seeing the computer antiques of the CIA in 1985. Sean Penn had been making movies only 2 years when he made this one. The plot concerns 2 former altar boys from wealthy families who become involved in espionage again the USA. The movie to me seems dated and slow. It is an interesting character study of two men who spy (one for political reasons the other for money) but the plot is pretty predictable to me. In 1985 this might have been a good movie but does not stand the test of time it is way too long and loosely constructed. I might read the book because I know it will be good. This movie is pretty mediocre. John Schlesinger made some great movies during his career but this is not one of them. In 1985 Ebert liked this movie and called it "one of the best of the year" I wonder what he thinks today. three stars.
February 24, 2009
A couple of good scenes - otherwise naive and simplistic. No convincing reason given for Hutton or Penn's actions. Minus half star for one of the worst songs in history over the end credits.
February 18, 2008
What an odd movie - an espionage thriller essentially about two kids on a lark. Part of this is a reasonably good thriller; another part is laughably cheesy, with young Sean Penn whining his ass off as the mixed-up drug dealer/would-be spy. The film is so inescapably eighties; it even has the chick from 'Footloose.'
December 28, 2007
Well done, well acted, with good direction. I was so glad when they caught the bastards. The film does a good job of showing how the passion of youth can blind someone to the damage they're causing and twist their priorities.
½ December 26, 2007
A good story depicting how people--particularly youth--can cross the line in their pursuit of fame and riches.
July 10, 2007
It's "Breakfast Club" meets "All the President's Men" Hutton and Penn are amazing as two kids who turn their youthful idealism and adolescent bordum into acts of treason. Hands down the best teen film ever.
April 25, 2007
I loved this movie and especially Bowie "This is not America" theme song when I first saw it years ago, but wasn't even slightly enchanted the second time.
½ January 10, 2007
"You fuck with us, accept the consequences." Fact based story about a government agent & a drug dealer who were giving U.S. Top Secret Government Documents to the Russian Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico from 1974 to 1977.
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