Saturday 10 June 2023

Movie Review: Scorpio (1973)

Genre: Crime Drama
Director: Michael Winner
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Paul Scofield, John Colicos
Running Time: 114 minutes

Synopsis: Veteran CIA agent Cross (Burt Lancaster) is working with his younger protégé "Scorpio" (Alain Delon), a cat-loving French assassin. They complete a job in Paris and return to Washington DC, where the CIA's McLeod (John Colicos) suspects Cross is a double agent and hires Scorpio to kill him. Cross flees to Vienna, where the KGB's Zharkov (Paul Scofield) offers temporary protection. As Cross tries to arrange his wife's extraction to Europe, Scorpio closes in. 

What Works Well: Director Michael Winner revisits the theme of an expert hitman guarding against the wannabe upstart, this time with a darker Cold War backdrop. The satisfyingly twisty plot enjoys the density of enemies as friends and affords 60-year-old Burt Lancaster the opportunity to unleash a knowing sparkle. Alain Delon supports with stony good looks and angled model postures against the photogenic European backdrops. The action scenes navigate the lines between clunky, prolonged, and serviceable.

What Does Not Work As Well: A lot of screen time is consumed by repetitive scenes of men in trenchcoats tailing each other with grim intent. The plot points are served-up with a hearty dose of cinematic license for Scorpio and Cross to make extraordinary physical and logic leaps. Ultimately, whether or not one assassin succeeds in assassinating another assassin is of little consequence.

Conclusion: Despite some wayward moments, hits the target enough times to leave a mark.

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