The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
In traditional spy lore, it is always the American who is the innocent -- the naive victim of intrigue by wily Europeans. But in the Cold War that changed; the CIA and KGB brought trickery up to a level all their own, with Europeans as their pawns. John Schlesinger's "The Innocent" is about a young British communications scientist who is a babe in the woods, caught between a hard-nosed American spy master and a seductive German woman who may or may not be working for the other side.
The movie is based on the novel by Ian McEwan. Friends who were reading it told me I wasn't going to believe what happened in the closing chapters. So I didn't read it, saving the suspense for the movie. I had to save it for a long time; this movie was completed in 1993 but is only now being released, maybe because it's unconventional in so many ways that it was feared audiences couldn't penetrate it.
The movie stars Campbell Scott as Leonard, the young Brit, who is sent to Germany during the Cold War, on an innocuous assignment that turns out to be the cover for something deeper and more dangerous. He meets Bob, his American minder (Anthony Hopkins). Soon they're in one of those nightclubs that looks like a Marlene Dietrich franchise. Pneumatic tubes connect the tables, so that patrons can send notes to one another. A message pops into Leonard's hands from Maria (Isabella Rossellini), a sultry-faced woman at another table.
Soon, despite Bob's warnings not to get involved with civilians, Leonard is enmeshed in a passionate love affair.