Movie Review: Jack Strong

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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9 Responses

  1. DensityDuck says:

    “Unlike the scenes in Poland and Russia, the Americans’ dialogue is flat and almost boring; the actors seem more disinterested in going through their paces of these scenes.”

    Maybe that was the point. To Kuklinski, it was the most important thing he could imagine–striking a blow at the oppressors in favor of his country’s true spirit of freedom, with his own life the forfeit if it went wrong! To the CIA handlers, it was Tuesday.Report

  2. Dark Matter says:

    Snowden became public in May or June of 2013.

    Jack Strong (the film) was released in Feb of 2014 (July 2015 in the US) but shot in January of 2013.

    • Burt Likko in reply to Dark Matter says:

      That’s probably unfair of me to ask the filmmakers to draw a comparison to something that happened after they were done shooting it, isn’t it?

      (Similarly, unfair of me to praise them for wisely refraining from doing so, as the case may be.)

      Thanks for that.Report

  3. tsts says:

    “when he was tasked with planning the Prague Spring.”

    What you really mean is that he was tasked with planning the suppression of the Prague Spring movement, right?Report

  4. Michael Drew says:

    Thanks, I might check this out. Prague ’68 an interest of mine.Report

  5. Kimmi says:

    The Best Movie Poland’s Ever Made — and why you shouldn’t watch it…

    Jack Strong is perhaps the best movie Poland’s ever made, despite bits and pieces being trite, one dimensional, or willfully ignorant. The acting’s strong, the story’s good — if more than a little farcical, and you get the real feeling that you’re there — the sense of verisimilitude comes through every single bit of Poland. Warsaw makes a great contribution to the entire piece.

    But enough about the technical details. This is a rightwing piece, deliberately creating a hero out of a butcher. They need someone to rally around, and Jack Strong, of all people, is the person they chose. To top it all off, they took Zgniev’s priceless sarcasm, “The first Polish member of NATO” and took it seriously. To completely shred someone’s meaning, simply to make it seem more positive, takes this one level above thievery to outright, and deliberate lying.

    You get trite sounding “we love Poland, Poland is awesome” speeches — that sound terribly forced, even with the Poles in their cups. I mean, seriously, you love Poland so much, you aren’t part of the resistance, you’re part of the oppression. And, in Jack Strong’s case, we mean that literally, as the architect of the suppression of the Prague Spring.

    People will say that this is a true story. Couldn’t be further from the truth (although I do applaud the deliberately vague ending with his sons — the Russians really might have decided to take revenge. If he was important, which he wasn’t.) The former soviets say that he was a double agent, and if so, then he was passing data that they already knew he was taking. Worse, he was taking deliberately planted plans that had no basis in reality. Even if you credit him with only working for one side — his contributions were minor. Of course the rightwing wants to blow him into a hero.

    Some might call this man a traitor. I’ll simply call him a fool.

    This story reeks of fascism, of trying to pull together Poland’s tattered dignity and pride in an era where she basically kowtowed to Russia. The spythriller’s fine, but the politics are appalling. And politics, when pushed this hard, makes the entire viewing turn one’s stomach.

    I’m not from Poland, though my grandmother always had a Polish accent. I cannot speak of the humiliation that they must have suffered. But I far prefer Leo Frankowski’s delightful romps through a Mongol invasion of Poland, rather than this hagiography of a no-name bit player.

    Even for a rightwing piece, this is poorly done work.Report