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What Spies don’t Know

by Richard Soulliere 2 years ago in movie review
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Action, intrigue, drama…you will find no better all-inclusive spy story that will leave you smiling.

I like to when shadows catch a person just right!

Bond enamoured you with his wit, confidence, and spectacular feats. Bourne thrice shocked you with revelations both big and small. While, you may have gripped your armrests for those rides, I offer a story so packed with everything espionage that I refuse to write the genre because I know I can do no better. What is the film title, you ask? “The Man Who Knew Too Little”.

Given how important context is, I have to ask, do you remember where you saw your first spy movie? Where was it? Did it have an impact on how you viewed the movie?

I remember seeing my first 007 movie in Cairo, which was very fitting given some of the backdrops in the movie. There was also a bit of code-breaking involved given the fact that I had to put my crash course in Arabic numerals to good use to figure out the price of admission (which turned out to be fun practice, too). That trip really opened my eyes as to how big and voracious the world is as well as how easily we can traverse it. That Bond flick was no exception.

They really are a wonderful site to see.

I managed to see the Bourne trilogy when I was living in Red China as a young adult. Targeting specific espionage folks in the established order seemed a more impressive feat in that context. The lying hierarchical superiors were of far less significance from my point of view, however, and for the same reason – the context in which I saw it.

Fast forward to adulthood when I was living in Moscow. That was where I saw an espionage film reminiscent of the somewhat-recently ended Cold War. What did this film, “The Man Who Knew Too Little” do?

To begin with, many espionage thrillers do not always spell out what the established order is, but so long as you allude to one, you will still basically have one. This is key because you need something chaotic to rub up against some kind of established order. “The Man Who Knew Too Little” follows suit because the aim is helping the little guy with a little guy that leaves the big guys’ - and gals’ - heads spinning.

In fact, that’s what makes it so great to begin with. The story could just as easily have been you living a normal, out-of-the-gutters, not-in-a-palace life on a trip to see a family member in another country where you understand the language they speak. This movie stays on that level, despite constant attempts of being dragged up into something more. I mean, in addition to multiple villains, it has an element of mistrust that adds flavor to every character to boot. (To be frank, this and the next paragraph are why I have decided not to write espionage because I honestly feel I can do no better.)

My favorite scene is the one that ends with the main character chilling with a local police officer. In fact, that scene sums up everything I had always ever wanted to see in a spy movie. It is very simple stuff that is something many spy movies tend to miss completely through a fault of their own. The other films, who recognize the basis of that simplicity, tend to intentionally mangle it in order to illustrate the very real dangers of spy work to an assumed-to-be naïve and clueless audience. To contrast these approaches, “The Man Who Knew Too Little” is simply quintessential.

But I am not going to tell you any more than that.


If you have really liked what you’ve read, please share with your friends (email, text, or social media). As always, feel free to check out other things I have written here on Vocal.

Thank you!

movie review

About the author

Richard Soulliere

Bursting with ideas, honing them to peek your interest.

Enjoyes blending non-fiction into whatever I am writing.

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