TNT • Sunday, Aug. 5 (8 p.m.)
TNT is bringing the Cold War to the dog days of summer with its mega-miniseries The Company. Billed as a three-week event and presented in a trio of two-hour installments, the special boasts an international cast and a globetrotting narrative spanning four decades. It also has a high-octane, behind-the-camera team that includes executive producers Ridley Scott (Gladiator), Tony Scott (Man on Fire) and John Calley (The Da Vinci Code).
Yet, in spite of all the top-tier talent and production values on display, The Company doesn’t carry its weight well. From the streets of a divided Berlin to the Bay of Pigs, the Hungarian Revolution of the 1950s to the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the spy drama packs in a lot of history and yet still feels overstretched at six hours. Even with all its CIA-versus-KBG spy games, romantic entanglements, personal deceits and bursts of violent action, the telepic isn’t the consistently riveting entertainment that it should have been.
Based on the novel by Robert Littell and directed by Mikael Salomon (TNT’s Salem Lot), The Company follows the disparate life courses of three Yale graduates, as played out against a Cold War backdrop. Its main protagonist, CIA recruit Jack McAuliffe (a likeable but not especially charismatic Chris O’Donnell) is mentored by top spy “The Sorcerer” (Alfred Molina, in an entertaining but fairly one-note performance), as he sheds his idealism and learns some harsh truths about life, love and loyalty.
Standing out among the performances is Michael Keaton’s turn as James Angleton who, as head of counterintelligence, must track down a suspected mole in the CIA.
Adult audiences, especially espionage fans, will find much to appreciate during the course of The Company’s three acts, but ultimately this Cold War drama will leave some viewers, well, cold.
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