One would think that an espionage film that draws on the talents of Paul Newman, John Huston, and James Mason would be something to see, but The Mackintosh Man is something of a disappointment. It's by no means a bad movie, but it's also nowhere near as good as that assemblage of talent would suggest. A large portion of the blame lies with Walter Hill's adapted screenplay, which -- at least in the form at which it arrived on the screen -- is muddled and jumbled and entirely too complicated. (The densely plotted book on which it is based is similarly complicated, but the film leaves out or obfuscates many details and makes a major change in the ending.) Granted, a spy film should be somewhat confusing and keep the audience guessing as to what is and is not true, but it must do so in a manner that reveals that the filmmakers, at least, are in firm control of what is going on and why. That's not the case here, a situation for which director Huston is also responsible. Huston's direction on the whole is slightly off, as if he were not really connected with the material, but there are a number of segments that reveal the director in top form -- most notably the thrilling chase from the gangsters and dogs in Ireland. Newman is good, if not at his top form either, and Dominique Sanda, though gorgeous, gives a rather uninvolved performance. But Mason and supporting actors Harry Andrews and Ian Bannen turn in very fine work. If Mackintosh is not a great thriller, it's certainly adequate entertainment for fans of Cold War spy tales.
by Craig Butler review