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The Company

4.2 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Traces CIA activities over a 40-year period, from the beginning of the Cold War through the demise of the Soviet Union.

Amazon.com

Handsomely mounted, epic in scope, and featuring an outstanding cast, TNT's The Company might restore some much-needed luster to the image of the Central Intelligence Agency (then again, perhaps not). Based on Robert Littell's popular historical novel of the same name, the show commingles real and invented characters as it traces the CIA's role in several major events, from the earliest days of the Cold War through the collapse of the Soviet Union, with particular attention given to the division of Berlin into East and West in the 1950s, the anti-Communist uprising in mid-'50s Hungary, and the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation in the early '60s.

The first of the miniseries' three parts introduces us to Yale graduates Jack McAuliffe (Chris O'Donnell), Leo Kritzky (Alessandro Nivola), and Yevgeny Tsipin (Rory Cochrane); the first two are recruited by the CIA, but the Russian-born Tsipin sides with the KGB. The initial focus is on the CIA's efforts to find a Soviet mole who's been interfering with the agency's work and putting many American lives at risk. Working with mentor Harvey "The Sorcerer" Torriti (Alfred Molina), who calls him "Sport" and delights in pointing out that such matters are nothing less than a life-and-death struggle between good and evil and right and wrong, McAuliffe skulks around Berlin, where his principal informant and soon-to-be love interest is a lovely young ballerina (Alexandra Maria Lara) with a few secrets of her own. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the colorfully-named CIA counter-intelligence expert James Jesus Angleton (a real guy portrayed with low-key intensity by Michael Keaton) slowly realizes that the mole in question is one of his old pals. And it doesn't stop there. Turns out there's another double agent (codename "Sasha") working for the Reds; this one's deeply embedded in the CIA, and Angleton, a chain-smoking obsessive whose behavior becomes increasingly cold and peculiar, devotes years (and most of the series' third installment) to outing him. The process by which he does just that, culminating in some fairly excruciating interrogation scenes, provides The Company's best moments--especially because we don't know until the very end whether Angleton has fingered the actual Sasha or not.

Viewers unfamiliar with the CIA's history and methods aren’t likely to be very encouraged by what's depicted here--especially in the second part, in which the agency's misadventures in Hungary and Cuba reveal it (as well as the U.S. government overall) to be not merely ineffective but disastrously inept, as well as shockingly callous and hypocritical when it comes to lending material support to the causes it claims to espouse. Still, the series does a good job with many of the elements common to such fare (Robert De Niro's 2006 film The Good Shepherd covers some of the same ground). Codes are written and deciphered. Secrets are kept… and revealed. Shots are fired, and some of them connect. People die, good and bad alike. And even if some of the scenes are a bit overheated and melodramatic, all in all, The Company (which was written by Ken Nolan, directed by Mikael Salomon, and produced by John Calley and Ridley and Tony Scott) is smart and entertaining. And some of it's even true. --Sam Graham

Stills from The Company (click for larger image)










Beyond The Company at Amazon.com


Amazon.com DVD editors listmania:

The CIA on Film and TV

The Book

The Films of Ridley Scott


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Chris O'Donnell, Alfred Molina, Michael Keaton
  • Directors: Mikael Salomon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 23, 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000UEE6TC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,639 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Company" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kirk McElhearn VINE VOICE on August 21, 2007
Format: DVD
Robert Littell's The Company is a massive novel that follows the history of the CIA from post WWII to the end of the cold war. As long as three books, this novel is rich and full of characterization. So it's obvious that any such book would be hard to bring to the screen, large or small. The TNT TV version, at around 4 1/2 hours, tried hard, but didn't do justice to the book. It sometimes seems like an outline of the book, and so much is left out, that the action moves too quickly, changing locations and characters, making it hard to follow. This is more so in the early part of the series; the last 1/3 focuses on a more limited situation, the attempt to find a CIA mole.

Suffering from overbearing music that is way too loud in the early parts (which makes you wonder why the music was toned down so much in the last third), and characters who are supposed to age about thirty years, but look only a few years older, The Company is, nevertheless, good TV. It will keep your attention, and the intrigue is interesting, but be prepared to give it a chance; it's hard to follow at the beginning. The acting is good, the sets and locations interesting, and the plot - good vs evil - works well, especially since we already know who won the cold war.

But if you like this mini-series, do read the book - it is probably the best spy novel I've ever read, and is so much more interesting than this over-short TV version. No film could do it justice, but I can't help but think that a couple more hours could have saved this from its weaknesses.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Sometimes it's all about the competition. If you have read The Company, you probably agree that it is a wonderful book. To say that a book that is almost 900 pages long ends too soon is saying a lot. But there is a lot good to say about The Company. And a lot in the 900 page book that is not going to make it to the screen in four and a half hours of run time.

So, if you compare the mini-series to the book, this probably gets three stars, notably for a few key changes to the plot, several omissions due to run time limits, and the problem of portraying characters who age by 40 years visually. (Yes, the music is annoying in the first episode, but it isn't that bad.)

However, if you compare to most other mini-series, this is close to five stars. After all, it starts off with a tremendous plot line and story. It does a great job of shooting realistically in foreign locales (Berlin and Budapest are done really well). And Molina and Keaton do a superb job with their characters. Keaton in particular goes to a whole new level in his portrayal of James Jesus Angelton, the real-life head of counter-intelligence in the CIA. The performances of these two actors alone make this DVD worth watching.

Sadly, Chris O'Donnell playing the main character is not up to what his two peers deliver. He just a great job as the 'Hail, fellow, well met!' Yalie, but just does not seem to ever grow or learn as he gets older. Having watched first hand the US betray their promises to the Hungarian freedom fighters in their 1956 revolt, he seems utterly surprised (first hand again) 5 years later that the US leadership does it again to the Cuban rebels on the Bay of Pigs. Some of this is the fault of the script writer, who otherwise has done a good job, but some of it is O'Donnell himself.
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Format: DVD
Years ago I gave up the spy novel for the crime novel, so I was hesitant to spend six hours in front of the tube to watch this miniseries. I was pleasantly suprised. Addicted, actually! Hyped for more! Great acting, photography and directing. Michael Keaton was AMAZING in his depiction of James Angleton.

Sign me up for the DVD.
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Format: DVD
The Company is an epic mini-series, and if that sounds like an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp, or military intelligence, then that is a fitting tribute to its subject: The Central Intelligence Agency. The Company is about the CIA and it covers a span of 40 years -- focusing mainly on the Cold War, and three men who meet on a rowing team while attending Yale: Jack McCauliffe (Chris O'Donnell) and Leo Kritzky (Alessandro Nivola) go to work for the CIA, while Yevgeny Tsipin (Rory Cochrane) is recruited by the Soviets as a spy.

Jack is assigned to the Berlin office under Harvey Torriti (Alfred Molina), known as The Sorcerer. Jack falls for the first asset he handles, a ballerina with the code name Rainbow. My favorite line is when the Soviet agent threatens him with the revelation that they've seen the two together at the opera, he responds with "It was the ballet" before opening fire. Her cover was blown by a mole and she shoots herself to avoid capture. He is shattered by her death and haunted by wondering if her identity had been given up by The Sorcerer as a "barium meal" to flush out a mole. Just as barium is used as an X-ray radiocontrast agent for imaging the human gastrointestinal tract, information is released that a mole, or a double agent, will act on, and if so, then the identity of the mole is revealed. Did The Sorcerer use the ballerina, Rainbow, as a Barium Meal? Jack goes on to other adventures, notably the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 and The Bay of Pigs.

Meanwhile, Yevgeny Tsipin leads an outwardly quiet life as a liquor delivery man, but in actuality, he is passing secrets to the Soviets.
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