Plot: What’s it about?
Scorpio is not the type of movie you want to discuss before seeing it, as many of the finer plots points are not only difficult to explain, but doing so would spoil moments of the film itself. So, while my plot synopsis will be short and very vague, you’ll thank me for it after you see the movie, and all the turns and twists are surprised to you. The movie revolves around two elite agents, one an American C.I.A. operative (Burt Lancaster), the other a skilled French assassin. While these men come from different background and even countries, they are also quite similar, considered to be among the very best in the spy field. As the Cold War rages on, the two become connected not only because of political implications that threaten them both, but also personal reasons.
This is one of the few spy genre movies that doesn’t rely on fancy high tech weaponry, like pens that shoot poison and a car that has spikes that jut from the rims. As such, some might be turned away by the lack of flashy spy goodies, but Scorpio uses dialogue and well crafted tension to overcome the lack of gadgets. Sure, you’ll find car chases and gun play, but this not an action movie, so expect more talking than action. Driven by excellent performances, fine directing, and superb writing, Scorpio stands as an above average spy flick, and fans of the genre should give it a whirl. I recommend the movie to genre fans and also followers of Lancaster’s work, as he gives a fine turn here. I recommend a rental for all but the hard-core fan however, since the transfer leaves a little to be desired, and extras are lacking as well. But if you love the movie, you’ll find the best looking version to date, so I’m sure the money will be well spent.
This movie relies on two main actors, with a supple supporting cast to flesh out the smaller roles. If you’re gonna rely on two actors for the bulk of the picture, you should get the best guys you can, and Scorpio has two great ones. Screen legend Burt Lancaster gives a rock solid performance, showing off not only his thespian skills, but his action skills as well, doing most of his own stunts. Lancaster (Field of Dreams, Tough Guys) had an illustrious career, and his work here is some of his best. Opposite Lancaster is another talented veteran actor, Alain Delon, who also gives a top notch performance. Delon’s outstanding skills can be seen in movies such as Girl on a Motorcycle, Is Paris Burning?, and The Lost Command. The supporting cast features John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica, The Changeling), J.D. Cannon (Cool Hand Luke, Krakatoa: East of Java), Gayle Hunnicut (The Legend of Hell House, The Martian Chronicles), Melvin Stewart, and Paul Scofield (King Lear, The Crucible). Director Michael Winner is best known for helming the first three Death Wish films.
Video: How does it look?
Scorpio is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. The image looks good, but is plagued by shimmering and flecking, which can be downright distracting in some scenes. Aside from those issues, the image is solid and looks good, however. Colors are drawn from a more natural palette, but flesh tones and greenery appear natural and normal. Contrast levels are well represented, with no serious flaws, and shadow depth is good, as is visible detail level.
Audio: How does it sound?
Mono is mono is mono, right? Well, this track contains the usual limitations of the format, but manages to avoid the usual hiss, which is a big plus. While the music and effects seem flat, the dialogue is crisp, with no inconsistencies arising.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You are treated to some liner notes and the original theatrical trailer.