Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent'

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 10


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,855
User image

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.


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 Commissioner
Roger Hammond
as Michaelis
Neville Phillips
as Ticket Clerk
View All

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

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

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

  • Aug 01, 2008
    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 L Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 2008
    Maintains interest with story and great cast.
    Anthony V Super Reviewer

Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent' Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features