"Agent of Influence" is a movie with a problem, to follow you need to already be aware of the story it is based on and have some idea of who the characters are but to be entertained you don't want to know what happened. It is a shame that it finds itself in the midst of this conundrum because "Agent of Influence" is an entertaining political thriller based on a true story with good performances especially from Christopher Plummer and direction which keeps things movie and you interested.
In 1965 John Watkins (Christopher Plummer - A Beautiful Mind) the Canadian Prime Minister's right hand man and Ambassador in Russia is abducted by the RCMP following pressure from the CIA. During days of twisted interrogation Watkins dies which was covered up in the official report which stated he died of a heart attack in the company of friends.
So as a movie fan I often find myself watching movies just for the sake of it or because it features an actor and with this starring Christopher Plummer it was a big enough draw to interest me. But to be frank I had never heard of John Watkins before watching and had to do a bit of research which I am sure would be the case for others who stumble across this movie. And his story is an interesting one set during a time of espionage, mistrust and underhand dealings from government agencies.
Now what goes on in "Agent of Influence" is a dramatization of the events uncovered by writer Ian Adams whose book the movie is based upon. We witness elements from the CIA's reasoning for targeting Watkins over a dislike of the Canadian Presidents stand on the Cold War. We witness how some within the agencies disagreed with the abduction and interrogation of Watkins. And of course we witness the interrogation and what happened all of which is interesting and well directed on what I presume was a moderate budget. But as I said this is a movie stuck in the middle because with out prior knowledge it is slightly hard to follow but with the knowledge it spoils what happens.
Never the less "Agent of Influence" is intriguing as it uncovers the tactics and manipulations of government agencies during the 60s which makes you feel sick at what they did. And it also features good performances with Christopher Plummer well cast as the dignified John Watkins whilst Marina Orsini impresses as the tenacious interrogator Diane Fletcher.
What this all boils down to is that "Agent of Influence" is an interesting movie, well acted and directed with an intriguing story. But it does suffer from focusing on what to me is an obscure true story which with out prior knowledge makes it difficult to follow but with prior knowledge spoils what happens.