The Osterman Weekend Reviews
By the point of directing The Osterman Weekend, Sam Peckinpah's career had been destroyed by his alcoholism and so his desire to work would have been likely to conflict with studio demands. Clearly the studio that asked for something which conflicted with his vision because he hated the source material and the screenplay he was forced to work with yet forbidden from doing any re-writes. As a result, The Osterman Weekend could not be less of a Sam Peckinpah film because it is less personal than his overblown 1978 film Convoy. But the difference is that Convoy had its charms and its value, whereas The Osterman Weekend is clearly just an excuse for the fading filmmaker to work again. If Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer actually put his presence to any value in the film then perhaps it would have at least some sense of value. Alas, that is not the case and so viewers are stuck with a cluttered narrative full of characters and plot hole which they do not care about enough to piece together.
The central problem with The Osterman Weekend is simply the fact that it is too talkative. The feature is a slow and uninvolving one with a story which is too complicated for its own good. As opposed to working as a spectacle or having characters who viewers can connect to, the political themes and characters in The Osterman Weekend all contribute to piling up in the film and rendering it a convoluted piece. There are way too many characters and plot dynamics to keep up with in The Osterman Weekend and the pace is too slow to carry it in the slightest entertaining manner. And yet the sad thing is that The Osterman Weekend needs to be this slow so that viewers can understand it, and yet being able to do that is still a challenge as it is just that complicated. Perhaps The Osterman Weekend was a decent novel, but it is far too complicated to be a film because actively attempting to keep up with the narrative was of little value to the experience as it was just so damned slow that it killed my brain to watch. By the end of the film, I still did not know for the life of me what Osterman was. But the problem is more that I just didn't care to find out because the film moved me so little.
The technical qualities of The Osterman Weekend are very rough. The visual quality of the camera itself is rather blurry and the colour scheme seems to be rather grim along the lines of a direct-to-video 1980's film. For a Sam Peckinpah film, there is a distinctive absence of the visual style that Sam Peckinpah is known for. If you didn't know that Sam Peckinpah was the director of The Osterman Weekend based on his credits, there would be no way to tell. The only mild aspect of his iconic style is the occasional use of slow motion during some of the action themed sequences, yet even there it is used to unnecesarry extents in a way which is not properly dramatic and in actual fact does nothing but prolong the film even though the last thing I wanted to do was to be forced to watch it any longer than I needed to. And though Sam Peckinpah films tend to make use of great musical pieces, The Osterman Weekend instead uses the jazz soundtrack of a 1970's sitcom and a 1980's soap opera combined which is a real mood kill when the film wants to be a thriller. It drives the mood of the film into a lighthearted overdrive which quintessentially turns many scenes into unintentional comedy moments. Frankly, it is just sad that The Osterman Weekend was the final note for the legendary filmmaker.
The one thing I enjoyed about The Osterman Weekend was Rutger Hauer's performance above all else. Though the film around him just falls apart, Rutget Hauer actively makes a really strong effort to keep up with everything that is going on with the story and brings some of his own iconic virtues to the role to mildly empower it. When I say that, I mean that Rutger Hauer has his own sense of wisdom whenever he speaks which convinces audiences that the overly convoluted story is not something he struggles to keep up with. In actual fact, he is the most genial presence of anyone in the cast or the crew simply because his charm has the ability to transcend the incompetence of the story around him much of the time in The Osterman Weekend. Viewers are left to cling on to him as he is essentially the only thing of value in the film, but he does factually prove himself to be effectively talented enough to carry an English language film on his own shoulders without sounding anything but American. Rutger Hauer stands out in The Osterman Weekend for his instinctive acting charms, making his performance the one thing that was worth the viewing.
The rest of the cast failed to live up to his standard. Dennis Hopper is an actor I admire, but his character is so thin that he has nothing to do with the part and he is essentially left standing around saying his lines in a manner which suggest he is more confused than the audience attempting to decipher the film. Craig T. Nelson is emotionlessly generic, and John Hurt is so awkward that it is almost laughable at times.
So Rutger Hauer is the one thing on point in The Osterman Weekend, but the incompetently confusing story and overly generic sense of style in the film make it a depressing final note for the career of Sam Peckinpah's whose sense of auterism is completely absent in this confusingly long waste of everybody's time.
As I said though this is an odd film to review because every time I think of the film or see it listed on TV I go 'Awesome the Osterman Weekend. I loved that book," But then when I see the film I'm reminded how disappointing the film was. And the biggest reason this happens to me is again because of the book. It's concept is so interesting that the mear sound of the concept makes you go "Damn this would make a good film"
Concept:John Tanner, the host of an investigative news show, is convinced by a CIA agent that the friends he has invited to a weekend in the country are engaged in a conspiracy, called Omega, that threatens national security. But then everything John Tanner thinks he knows about his closest friends is overturned, and he is set against them. But when Omega finally reveals itself, he realizes that he has been manipulated from the very start. Like..HOW COOL Does that sound? it TOTALLY sounds like it would make a great film. Sadly it isn't a good film.
I think the major reason this film failed is the length. The film takes a 300+ page book and turns it into an 1hr and 40 some min film. Like that ALONE makes the film not really close to the book(Now YES i Know that the book is long and etc and you can't add everything but I think you can make a film closer to it's source material in just over 2hrs.)
The other MAJOR problem is the plot holes,which are thanks to the length maybe, but they happen so often and can't keep the story together that it ruins the experience. I'm going to quote Roger Ebert on this he said it best "I don't demand that all movies make sense. I sometimes enjoy movies that make no sense whatsoever, if that's their intention. But a thriller is supposed to hold together in some sort of logical way, isn't it?" and well...Isn't is? This film..NOT AT ALL. It makes no sense at all . I think the only reason it's really worth watching is if it's on TV or you want to see some interesting action scenes(which are few and far between).
In closing it's a real shame this film is as bad as it is. I guess it goes back to that age old story that you can never make a film better or as good as the original source material.
In closing this is a disappointing film. It's not a BAD film per say. Yes it has LOT'S of plot holes but the performances by Dennis hooper and John Hurt and Rutger Hauer make the film worth watching but they can't really save the film. If you've read the book you'll look at this film probably with distastes and hatred. If you haven't you'll probably find some enjoyment in the film but not enough to really warent watching it alot. If you want a good movie by the man that originally wrote the book(Roburt Ludlom) stick to the BOurne Trilogy.
When TV host John Tanner is told by Lawrence Fassett that his 3 old scholls chums are Russian spies he sets in motion a chain of events which unfold over the course of one weekend named after one of Tanners friends Bernard Ostermann.
As the weekend becomes more and more tense Fasset turns the screws and the friends begin to crack leading to a typically well shot Peckinpah ending.
The biggest problem is the films middle which is just the wrong side of dull and the old Peckinpah magic appears to be gone.
But the saving grace is the final assault on the house which shows just how good Peckinpah could be when he put his mind to it.
Rutger Hauer and John Hurt make great sparring partners as Tanner and Fasset and Craig T Nelson ,Meg Foster and Dennis Hopper make up some of the supporting cast .
Peckinpah is constanly showing us how the camera can fool us when it comes to statements or random acts and it really is a shame that this film was his last.