Condorman (1981)
Condorman (1981)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

Release Date: August 7th, 1981 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Charles Jarrott Actors: Michael Crawford, Oliver Reed, Barbara Carrera, James Hampton, Jean-Pierre Kalfon

 


 

A

tragically dull adventure film from Walt Disney Productions, “Condorman” amazingly manages to turn exaggerated explosions and lengthy action scenes into uncommonly uninteresting events. With tranquil ambushes, tensionless escapes, unconvincing disguises, tame car stunts, boring boat chases, and ridiculous futuristic gadgetry, this unambitious feature is a predictable, silly ordeal that remains rightfully obscure. “You’re not serious!” cries femme fatale Natalia to Condorman when he climactically unveils his brightly colored winged costume. Exactly.

Wacky comic book cartoonist Woody Wilkins (Michael Crawford) insists on realism in his art. If his title superhero Condorman can’t do it in real life, it’s not good enough for his fictionalized adventures. But the flying marvel becomes decidedly real when CIA desk clerk Harry Oslo (James Hampton) convinces Woody to accept a civilian mission to contact a Russian operative for a secret document handoff. He haphazardly pretends he’s an actual spook, utilizing the bodeful codename Condorman (the Vulture of the Western World). When the same Russian beauty, Natalia Rambova (Barbara Carrera) later decides to defect, she insists on working with the seemingly competent Woody once again, resulting in the pair getting wrapped up together in the adventure of a lifetime – one as outrageous as those found in the pages of Wilkins’ popular comic book.

Henry Mancini adds decent musical riffs to an otherwise unspectacular film – including a theme song with a single, repetitious, monotonous yet enthusiastic word: Condorman! Woody may be a great comic book writer and an outstanding cartoonist, but he’s a lousy bird. So it’s a good thing the Agency is so surprisingly generous when it comes to outfitting the spy with every James Bond invention in the book – especially for a man with no qualifications and no training. Vehicles for sea, land, and air are equipped with high-tech weaponry, lasers, flamethrowers, and bombs, along with cheesy costumes and disguises that range from inconvenient to absurdly harebrained. Apparently, not every agent is shrewd and self-sufficient like Robert Redford from “Three Days of the Condor.”

The plot is a classically comical case of manageable mistaken identities and serious objectives, lighthearted shenanigans and severe villains (and allies). Relatively sincere events surround a moronic lead character who must fumblingly defeat foes and accidentally elude disaster, never truly realizing the dangerousness of his undertakings. In its spoofing of 007, the film also includes an assassin with a glass eye, a deadly KGB pursuit squadron with diabolical black Porsches, ominous codenames, and a couple of admittedly humorous moments. But overall, it’s pretty juvenile stuff. “It was nothing,” Condorman gloats. “I do this 2-3 times a week.”

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10