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The Odessa File

Posted by martinteller on September 14, 2012

A German freelance journalist named Peter Miller (Jon Voight) comes into possession of a concentration camp survivor’s diary.  He learns of a vicious SS Commandant (Maximilian Schell) still at large.  With little help from the police, he investigates, digging deeper into the secrets of ODESSA: an organization that helps protect Nazi war criminals while also plotting to destroy Israel.

Another writer (from the Filmspotting Forum) recently used the phrase “It is what it is” in his review of this film.  That about sums it up, really.  It goes through the motions, employing most of the usual tropes of the spy and paranoid thriller genres.  The gradual uncovering of the truth and the vague threats as the hero gets closer to it, the process of infiltrating the enemy, the cat-and-mouse games, et cetera.  All this would be fine if it was done with any flair, but it isn’t.  The material itself is fairly interesting (including a certain late reveal) but Neame executes it with little panache and Voight isn’t bringing much to the table either.

It’s not a slow film.  It’s not a boring film.  It’s not a stupid film.  It’s entertaining enough and tense enough to pass the time in a sufficiently pleasant manner.  But there’s nothing more than that.  It is what it is.  Rating: Fair (67)

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