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  • Some people see this movie as tripe. I on the other hand enjoyed the heck out of it. Hackman is always good, Mikhail did a good job for a ballet dancer. The supporting cast was excellent. There wasn't a foul four letter word in every other sentence, which was a delight in itself. I enjoyed the plot, counterplot and just got caught up in the whole thing. Sure there are some holes in the story but have you seen the garbage that passes for 'critical acclaim' on television nightly? See it yourself, make up your own mind.
  • Gene Hackman is Sam Boyd, an old CIA agent who is dragged back into "Company Business" in this 1991 film also starring Mikhail Baryshnikov. Boyd has to funnel money to the Russians using a prisoner switch as an excuse, but it all goes awry when, during the exchange, he realizes the prisoner the Russians are sending over is someone he just saw at the airport. He aborts the switch immediately. He and his Russian (Baryshnikov) are directed to a safe house, but when it blows up, Hackman realizes the CIA wants both of them dead. So they go on the run with $2 million.

    This film had a light, breezy atmosphere to it, and the two stars play it sort of like an "I Spy" episode. It's not an out and out comedy but it's pleasant and implausible enough. Someone thought that the "big reveal" about the young the woman helping the two in France made the thing truly ridiculous - I don't know why. Baryshnikov at the time of the filming was 43, and the young woman (Geraldine Danon) was 23. What's the problem? Great locations in Berlin and France, good acting, and some exciting scenes. Fun if you're not expecting "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold."
  • Company business is definitely a film for those with spy-genre tastes. The plot begins as a fairly straight-forward story, but as you expect in all films in this genre, twists and turns develop - people are not who they seem and it becomes difficult to work out who is playing who. That said, it is not a clichéd film, largely because the twists are not contrived or overcooked.

    Further it has a European flavour to tone it down. It doesn't become a cluttery screaming shoot out towards the end - an trap that American films all too often fall into.

    I suppose that's why I give it such a high rating: an engaging spy thriller that manages not to overstate the drama or manufacture the twists. In many respects, it gives the film a strange credibility. I feel that this is much more indicative of a real CIA officer's job than something like spygame or James Bond.

    Mikail Barishnykov (sorry if spelling is wrong) showed considerable acting talent and Hackman, as always, delivers a strong, but toned performance. Supporting roles from Kirkwood Smith and Terry Quinn, only bolstered its stocks further.

    A strange thing to note is that the key people involved in the film has issues with it. Gene Hackman was tired from doing three films in a row and apparently wanted to back out, but pushed through. Barishnykov refused to do publicity for it and has not spoken fondly of the film. The director said some sequences were good, but the "whole" wasn't the outcome he wanted and regretted starting production without a complete shooting script.

    While I feel like someone who appreciated a film that the main people in its production didn't rate, I don't care. I've rewatched it multiple times and love its pacing and plotting.
  • Decently scripted and well acted, Company Business missed many people's radars. Take a few seconds out to remember that its setting is the time that it was filmed - while the jokes may seem dated now, they were funny at the time for a Europe waking up to the end of the iron curtain. The two leads have decent chemistry and the supporting roles are well done - it's actually nice to enjoy the film for having no unnecessary love interest to distract the story.

    It will never be an awards contender by any stretch of the imagination and certainly not Gene Hackman's finest hour, it's still worth watching.
  • Rewatching this in 2020 (last viewing was probably mid-90s!) I must say I enjoyed this mild mannered "spy games" light comic thriller. Showing its age now with references to Princess Diana and protagonists smoking on an aeroplane. Has shades of better movies like MIDNIGHT RUN and 48 HOURS but with its own unique charm. I like the twisty turny espionage plot (like an early dry run of Jason Bourne films) and the Michael Kamen score sounds very DIE HARD esque, which adds to some of the more tense scenes (especially the spy trade gone wrong scene about halfway through the film). Lots of good strong supporting actors chewing scenery, and I'll watch Hackman in anything! Some of the dialogue makes me laugh too ("He's so rich he could ski uphill"), and I thought the cinematography was good on my modern 60 inch television. It also serves as a great travelogue of Berlin and Paris. Loses a few points for a totally abrupt ending, almost like they ran out of budget! I would have loved another 10-15 minutes to see how the characters ended up, and if they made it to the Seychelles.
  • aegm30 May 2000
    Sometimes you rent something that you think will be bad just for the sheer campiness of it. That's what I thought I'd done with Company Business as I'd been browsing through the Blockbuster and couldn't remember the film at all, despite being a Baryshnikov fan. I figured what the heck and rented it anyway. I was quite surprised to find myself really enjoying this film even though you sometimes have to really work at suspending your disbelief. I'm still trying to figure out how exactly Baryshnikov could have been successful as a mole with his accent.

    This film has two things really working for it though -- the dialogue and the stars. The dialogue is wonderful. Throughout the movie there are great one line bits that leave you chuckling. Mind you, most of those lines wouldn't have worked if Hackman and Baryshnikov hadn't had such great chemistry. You really don't watch this film for the plot, but for the interaction between these two. It certainly wasn't a pairing I expected, but it worked.

    With all that said, my one complaint about the movie has nothing to do with whether or not it was a believable plot, but where it left off. I wanted more resolution. My husband agrees. We got to the end of the film and he looked at me and said "That's it? It was just getting good." It leaves too many things up in the air.

    All in all, I would say if you are expecting a spy movie, don't bother. If, on the other hand, you want a fun little buddy movie, rent it and enjoy.
  • the great acting was about the best part of this for me. I also liked the storyline; it was deep enough but not so that you get too confused about why the things that are happening are happening. It was good to see lots of different and interesting locations: Berlin and Paris (I always wondered how the elevators went up the curved legs) in particular. The script was no slacker either. On top of the normal discussion you had witty one liners to lighten the mood. I thought it was charming how they started out (Hackman and Baryshnikov that is) as 'business men' doing their respective jobs, playing their roles but then became attached to one another and thus fought together. I also liked the mysteriousness of the ending. The 'where are the going to go now?' factor is usually a good touch. If anything was wrong with it I would've liked a little more action. The only real action scene I recall was the shootout in the subway. Other than that they were just running from baddies and jumping out of windows, which was entertaining but more confrontation would have been appreciated.
  • Almost retired CIA spy Boyd (Gene Hackman) is called back to service to bring prisoner Grushenko (Mikhail Baryshnikov) to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange. from the beginning, Grushenko is suspicious, so maybe that's foreshadowing. and of course, a designated meeting goes bad, and "someone" is shooting at them. when Boyd calls DC for instructions, his boss turns out to be Kurt Smith, "Red" from the Seventies Show. Acc to wikipedia and other sources, there were soooo many issues making this film... an unfinished script, the fact the USSR was already kaput, and cast and production disagreements. it's also odd that both IMDB and wikipedier label this an action comedy.... i'll go along with the action, but never did hear the comedy. it's pretty well done as a serious action/drama, which is how the actors play it. the ending is pretty weak. there are a couple twists and turns, but it kind of ends with a whimper. no big showdown. which is ok. very european. written and directed by Nicholas Meyer. it's good. but it's not a comedy.
  • The Wall was about to fall,and however it seems that this movie was made a long long time ago ,back in the sixties .Gene Hackman is much too old for this kind of part.Michael Caine,Richard Burton and Paul Newman were about 40,when they were fighting against the commies.The story is so far-fetched that after twenty minutes,we do not care anymore about what may happen to the two heroes.But the biggest bomb comes in the last third,when we learn Natacha's real identity.That's so implausible that even the scenes filmed on the Eiffel Tower fail to excite.

    Word to the wise:as far as Nicholas Meyer is concerned,do prefer "Time after time" (1979) an entertaining unpretentious fantastic movie or Herbert Ross's "the 7% solution" the screenplay of which he wrote.
  • While I realize that others have dis'd this movie, I found it entertaining enough to get the DVD. Géraldine Danon is certainly quite attractive and I appreciated the location work v. some bogus set. If you are looking for Oscar material you will need to pass on this one. On the other hand, if you like the talent (Hackman, et al) then you will probably find it worth your time to enjoy this. I can promise you there has been a great deal worse than this made by many times over.
  • I like Gene Hackman and Mikhail Baryshnikof, and they play off each other very well. Hackman is right in his element and delivers a solid performance. Baryshnikov is also quite good in one of the few if only film roles where he isn't a dancer. The plot isn't a total dud by any means and has a lot of twists and turns (even if you don't want to examine any of this too closely) along with a least one double-cross. The action is entertaining, the contrast between Hackman and Baryshnikof and the typical "James Bond" secret agent is clearly defined. These guys are basically "over the hill has beens" just trying to survive. Sort of like an end of the Cold War Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

    Underrated and often overlooked, this has all kinds of things going for it. Spies, old guard verses new, humor, chases, escapes, double and triple crosses, globe trekking, and so much more. The name of Gene Hackman certainly may be enough to sell you, and he's in top-notch form in this film, but add to that the surprise addition of Mikhail Baryshnikov turning in a marvelously credible acting job, and you have the beginnings of a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Cold War type spy films may seem passé to some, but this film totally captures the excitement and intrigue of the genre. The script is a bit silly, but it is a tradition for "USSR vs. USA" spy films. I think it is a classic old-school "cold war" movie with two brilliant main heroes.

    Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
  • Nicholas Meyer is a good writer as shown in the many screen plays, and novels, he has given us. As a director, he has had some success and failures, as it's the case of his "Company Business", which he wrote for the screen and directed.

    The film has a fatal casting problem in Mikhail Barysnikov, who was a great dancer, but alas, as an actor, one would advise him to stick to his day job. As a result, the film never achieves the momentum that is hinted at the start.

    Gene Hackman, a superb actor, doesn't do as well under Mr. Meyer's direction. As a matter of fact, he appears to be too old for the part and there is no chemistry between him and Mr. Barysnikov, making the film drag. The others in the cast do what they can, but nothing can save this movie.

    On the plus side, we are taken to interesting locales, but by the time we arrive at those destinations we couldn't care less where we are, or if it's Friday, we must be in taking a tour of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  • Poor commitment by many involved and sloppy storytelling hurt this otherwise promising film. While not quite a comedy and barely an action film, the stars use their smarts to overcome their enemies but the audience is force fed this information. The worst example is cutting from a hero making a prediction to the prediction coming immediately to pass, as told solely with dialog ("They will be expecting that."). This is clearly lazy character building and story progression by those in charge. Many of the performers are recognizable years later, and have proven their talent, but it does not come across on screen. Generally it is an enjoyable film but not something that will leave a lasting impression.
  • Gene Hackman tells the Russian spy's daughter to, "remember to renew her subscription to Time Magazine," during a phone call. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever unless the earlier scene where Time Magazine was discussed was left on the cutting room floor and the Director simply forgot this?This a 90's light-hearted spy movie and the cat and mouse chase to catch the two men (Hackman and the Russian spy), kept my hubby and I entertained. The views of Paris were nice to see.
  • This film is a cold-war type thriller with the United States and the Russians trading spies (or former spies: the story is a little confusing.)

    The "trade" goes wrong when Gene Hackman thinks the man he's trading for (Baryshinikov) is the wrong guy. The inference from that centers around a corrupt U.S. government sanctioning whatever is taking place. The corrupt government theme is getting more than a little tiresome but Hackman and this good no-name cast makes this still an interesting story, even if that theme has been way overplayed. Odd how American filmmakers, who make millions of dollars in this country, always make the American government look like villains. It's pathetic.

    This movie would have been so much better had things been a little easier to follow.
  • The only reason I didn't instantly dismiss this film was because it was written and directed by Nicholas Meyer (who wrote and directed the only good Star Trek films). Gene Hackman as the lead actor lent it credibility as well, although I recall him doing B-grade films during this period, eg. Narrow Margin. The "all star" cast of supporting actors came as a pleasant surprise.

    What I liked bout the film is that the story seemed "real", the characters were inspired by the real world rather than the world of movie-writing. Hackman's character ekes out a living doing petty Industrial Espionage (and not very successfully from the look of it). The bad guys aren't two-dimensional, they're doing what they believe is best. Neither side stays one step ahead, they simply wing it.

    The European setting gives the film a little extra character eg. seeing one of those Trabants (with their horrible 2-stroke engine) in action. The film is rough around the edges however, with some shots given significance for no reason, and some important plot elements that if you blink, you'll miss. If I had watched this in the cinema I would have been confused by the whole thing.

    I think David Mamet could take a few lessons from this film (his characters in "Heist" seem to possess a telepathic level of anticipation). Company Business is nowhere near as polished as Meyer's Star Trek films but it is enjoyable if you're willing to rewind when it stops making sense.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A silly mix of political mayhem and two opposites forced together in an adventure that they are probably both too old for, this suffers from both a really dumb structure mixed with a horrid screenplay. The fantastic Gene Hackman hides his embarrassment and goes through with a serious portrayal as an alleged government agent assigned to get Mikhail Baryshnikov out of prison and across the German border, a job screwed up by double-cross, sending both men into hiding together and putting an embarrassing predicament on both the United States and Russia. This makes officials from both countries look like buffoons, think the Coyote and Elmer Fudd meet Boris and Natasha. They end up in Paris where all of a sudden we learn that Baryshnikov has a daughter, kidnapped in an attempt to get him to come out of hiding, resulting in a tense conclusion on the Eiffel Tower. While I didn't expect another Bond film, I certainly didn't expect Looney Tunes with a touch of genuine violence and sexuality either. Screenwriters of fluff like this expect us to buy whatever they try to sell us simply because we're naive about political intrigue, but they underestimate most of us who can recognize absurdity right off the bat. To top it off, there's really no conclusion which adds to the frustration of the 90 minutes you've just wasted.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One of the delightful sides of Company Business is that it shows some of the seedy side of the espionage game, especially when things are being run as games within games and by people with whom you not only could never identify, but you are unsure as to what they really are representing. The theme is simple: People are born on one side or another and become part of the turmoil, long after the ideals have been laid to rest. This was certainly done better in various Jon Le Carre' books, but the result is the same. This was a movie about how time was bypassing the Cold War. I was surprised to read that Mikhail Baryshnikov hated this movie and would do no publicity for it. While he didn't do such a great acting job in it, he did remind one of the characters he was playing, jailed, nervous, and unsure of where he was going. Hackman's acting was much lower key than normal, his ability to deliver short bursts of power and that machine gun forced laughter notwithstanding. He gave you the image of an over-the-hill agent who couldn't resist another shot at the action. I especially liked the idea of them escaping from both sides, back to the universal idealistic dream. My only great criticism is how silly it is to portray being shot in such an insouciant manner. The fact that a country might not have extradition, also, isn't really an issue for the CIA, KGB or even the Columbian drug czar. The scenery is beautiful in Berlin and I howled at them being in one of the clubs which made Berlin famous. Paris was also beautiful and the Eiffel Tower scenes were majestic, especially the Eiffel Tower elevators. Geraldine Danon was hauntingly beautiful, especially when she shows up at the café to meet Hackman. I am disappointed that she did not show up in any other Hollywood movies.
  • Revman5015 June 2020
    There are moments that work but, for the most part, the film either lacks the grit to make it a thriller or the humor to make it a comedy. The ending is abrupt and premature. Hackman's performance is the only thing that makes any of it work.
  • Pretty good spy movie more realistic than many other spy flicks. Plausible story with dozens of typical Hollywood digs at America, American institutions in and out of the government and American allies- mostly overt digs but some covert ones too. If you ignore them, or more likely don't even notice them, this is a very watchable bit of entertainment. Good cinematography, sometimes reminiscent of Hitchcock, and action keeps you interested in the story. Hackman and Baryshnikov work and play well together.
  • Apparently this film bombed at the box office and the director was very disappointed with how the whole thing turned out.

    However, the film has a certain post cold war charm and the two leads Gene Hackman and Mihail Baryshnikov play nicely opposite each other.

    True it's not a well finished film and scripting is, at times, nonsensical.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This isn't one of those elaborate spy movies with many twists and duplicitous characters. In fact, when you think a double cross is about to happen... it doesn't. There aren't a lot of characters that keep coming and going to keep track of.

    Hackman and Baryshnikov are OK in their roles. They don't ham it up (too much) and keep a reasonable degree of seriousness of the fact they're "out in the cold" and will be probably be killed on sight by their respective spy organizations. I'd say this movie is about 60/40 comedy/drama.

    I was disappointed in the ending. They've finally laundered the marked bills (maybe a bit too easily), but Grushenko (Baryshnikov) is wounded and they're stuck in a restaurant near the bottom of the Eiffel tower after having killed a CIA senior officer. Boyd (Hackman) talks about disappearing to the Seychelles with the laundered cash because it has no extradition. But they still have to get off the tower and out of Europe. Plus, I doubt the CIA and (remnants of) the KGB care much about extradition. Their biggest worry should be how to get across the street. Then the movie just ends. The voice mail left for the mysterious sweet toothed "Donald" seems to be the potential solution. But how? Was the jar of jellybeans supposed to be a clue? "Ronald" Reagan was known to like jellybeans, but he was out of the government and would be a very unlikely ally to a former Soviet operative.
  • Mikhail Baryshnikov is an excellent ballet dancer but what inspired him to get into films? This time out, he is not even in his element. He was cast as ballet types in "The Turning Point" and "White Nights" but here, he has the miscasting of portraying a mole who gets involved in an operation involving swapping prisoners. It is basically a comedy but it does not succeed in being anywhere near funny and much better things can be expected out of Gene Hackman, who unfortunately costars in this snoozer.
  • A light, a very light, almost comedy, almost drama flick. Hackman has had better roles in other movies and is a very good actor, but you can't do much with this plot... They try to make drama with twists and turns along the way but it doesn't quite work. The CIA brings Hackman out of retirement for reasons only poorly brought out, to hand off a KGB spy in trade for someone we (The USA) want. Everyone has deceptive reasons for doing everything and the CIA & KGB team up (Yeah, like that's really going to ever happen!) for each organizations goals...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Not a bad movie with good performances. However the premise is flawed from the beginning. The CIA would never and I mean take orders from an Air Force Colonel. The CIA is completely separate and independent from the military. Whoever wrote the script for this film is clueless. Anyway If one can overlook the stupid underlying premise then the film can be enjoyed as lightweight entertainment.
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