Peckinpah's final film - adapted by Alan Sharp from the Robert Ludlum novel - is hardly a fitting epitaph to a career that produced some of the most morally complex American films of the 60s and 70s but it rattles along well enough as a thriler of the political paranoia variety.
John Hurt plays a CIA operative who is double-crossed by a scheming and manipulative high ranking official (Burt Lancaster) who has designs on his own dictatorship. Himself not adverse to a spot of manipulation, Hurt enlists the help of patriotic gung-ho investigative journalist Rutger Hauer to help him unmask a possible spy from the three likely candidates of Dennis Hopper, Craig T. Nelson, and Helen Shaver. Only as Hauer delves deeper into the lives he seeks to illuminate does Hurt's Machiaveillan intentions become clear.
The top drawer cast - all allegedly keen to take a tilt at working with the famously 'difficult' master - lend the material a quality and commitment it perhaps doesn't deserve. Hurt and Hauer are a perfect foil for each other, while Hopper - as ever is good value. Trouble is, Peckinpah seems not to share his screenwriter's intentions and is far more interested in exploring notions of surveillance, voyeurism, and the concept of reality. Political shenanigans dispensed with, Peckinpah serves up his usual precision-perfect set-pieces and generally has a lot of fun with firearms. Disappointing, then, but not without value and a visceral pleasure to be sure.
"The Osterman Weekend" is on BBC2, 11.50pm, Sunday 5 November 2000.