Condorman – film review

Cover of "Condorman" from Walt Disney Pictures.
Cover of “Condorman” from Walt Disney Pictures.
Condorman is a film I remember fondly from my childhood. It’s a spy thriller with some science fiction bits and it stars Michael Crawford, who five years later went on to become world famous as the Phantom in the musical The Phantom of the Opera.

Woody Wilkins (played by Crawford) is a comic book artist and author who is visiting his CIA friend Harry in Paris as part of his research to make his comic more realistic. Harry asks him to deliver some papers to a Russian in Istanbul, the beautiful Natalia. After telling her he is a high-level spy codenamed “Condorman” and then accidentally saving Natalia from several assassins, they part and she goes back to Moscow. Frustrated with her boss, Krokov, she decides to defect and asks the CIA to send Condorman to retrieve her.

After the CIA figures out Condorman is Woody, he agrees to go rescue her if the CIA creates a bunch of cool spy gadgets for him to use. After multiple chases and encounters with Krokov’s men, Natalia is recaptured and Woody is given only two days to save her.

The plot is pretty good, and it moves along at a good pace. All of the characters are believable and all the actors play their roles very well. Oliver Reed plays a good villain (he always does), James Hampton does a good job as Harry in his typical nice-guy role, and the beautiful Barbara Carrera does an excellent job as damsel-in-distress Natalia.

When Condorman first came out, it was generally panned by critics who seemed to miss the point of the film: it’s a tongue-in-cheek spoof of spy movies. The main thing I remember from seeing it over 30 years ago is how much fun it was. Sure, it’s campy fun, but fun nonetheless, and seeing it again recently has only rekindled that sense of fun.

Now this film isn’t going to win any awards (especially not 32 years after it came out), and it didn’t win any when it came out, but it’s a fun (did I mention it was fun?) and campy film which can be safely enjoyed by all ages. Even the violence in the film is caricatured such that I would be comfortable letting anyone of any age watch the film. That’s pretty rare for spy flicks in general, and especially spy flicks these days.

Needless to say, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I like this film. While it is not the best film ever, I’m only rating it low because it’s so campy. If you haven’t seen Condorman, the easiest way to get it is to sign up for the Disney Movie Club. It’s not available through regular retail outlets except from those who are selling it second-hand (though possibly still unopened). I recommend it as a good, campy popcorn spy film.

Release Date: August 7, 1981 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG

MySF Rating: Three point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 95%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some drinking and smoking)
Language: 0
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 0
Violence: 2 (some spy violence)

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