The Quiller Memorandum's strengths and charms are perhaps a bit too subtle for a spy thriller, but those who like their espionage movies served up with a sheen of intelligence rather than gloss or mockery will embrace Quiller. Still, there's no denying that that intelligence doesn't go as deep as it thinks it does, which can be frustrating. Harold Pinter's fairly literate screenplay features several moments that seem to explore the tenuousness of human relationships and the human condition, but it's too bound up in the conventions of its genre to make the most of these moments. Even so, that's enough to make Quiller stand out from so many others of its ilk. Unfortunately, Quiller has a tendency to drag (although its final half hour is quite taut and suspenseful), and many of the plot points don't quite add up the way they're supposed to. On the positive side, there are fine performances from George Segal, Max von Sydow, and Alec Guinness, and a haunting and atmospheric John Barry score that is quite memorable. Those in the mood for a James Bond-ish adventure should look elsewhere, but those searching for a serious-minded, if flawed, spy film should be adequately rewarded.
by Craig Butler review