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The Secret Agent Review

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★★★★★

Writer turned director Christopher (Carrington) Hampton's adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel - inspired by a true event, an anarchist blowing himself up trying to bomb Greenwich observatory in 1894 - is a curious failure, notable for bizarre casting.

Bob Hoskins, who also produced, stars as the agent provocateur Verlock, in the pay of a foreign government and Scotland Yard while posing as a Soho pornographer and anarchist. In a tale of multiple betrayals Patricia Arquette is miscast as his Cockney wife, Christian Bale is her simple brother used by Verlock in his sabotage, Gerard Depardieu is a seedy political refugee, and Eddie Izzard isn't bad as a Russian embassy spymaster, while Jim Broadbent as a detective seems to be in a totally different film (a spoof). The big surprise and highlight is not in the clumsily structured, jerky plot of the monotonous mood but an uncredited Robin Williams, actually chilling as a mad bomber anarchist.

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