Harvey Pekar | Rocky River, Ohio United States | 06/16/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The Holcraft Covenant is nothing more than your average 80's thriller that has the benefit of having a top-notch leading man and director attached. The picture looks excellent and there is just enough intrigue added to the film's premise to keep the viewer on board the whole way. Frankenheimer displays his trademark visual flair without going over the top(as many were guilty of at the time). The one thing that really detracts from the film is it's obviously low budget and irritating synth score. It is an overall average adaptation of a fairly decent Ludlum thriller that is worth picking up only for the excellent picture quality and commentary by the director. It is a delight to hear Frankenheimer discuss one of the film's most exciting scenes being filmed and constructed around of the absence of a leading man! For Fans of the star and director only."
Crappy DVD Transfer
Gregory Mast | San Jose, CA | 05/01/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"OK, so I wasn't really paying attention when I pre-ordered this movie. I was surprised when I checked the invoice and noticed that the movie cost about 5 USD. However, it is fair to say that even at five dollars this DVD is grossly overpriced.
Why? Because this looks like the worst kind of 4th generation bootleg VHS transfer. The video is crap and the audio is worse. This is, without a doubt, the worst DVD in my library (and it won't be there long). I actually checked the packaging to see if in fact this was a studio release.
If you are an afficianado of Mexican bootleg DVD's then this is for you. Otherwise, ZERO STARS .(...)"
Enlightening and Relevant to Today
MediaCritic | LA Burbs | 03/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Michael Caine always can anchor a spy flick, and this is no exception. While the plot is a trifle flat, and a couple of the supporting actors (Victoria Tennent) are stretched beyond their abilities, the cinemagraphic techniques and direction by John Frankenheimer are superb. Several elements, particularly the outdoor angles from crowded streets and the icy violin sound effects echo back to the great spy movies of the post-war era and lend an almost Hitchcock-esque eeriness to the film. And when the climax finally reveals the implications of the plot, even the dense can see the relevance to comtemporary events.
Hard to believe this timely film is nearly 20 years old."
What film did these other people watch?
Elizabeth | Bowling Green, Ky USA | 06/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don"t understand why there are so many negative reviews for this enjoyable "spy" film. I did not find it hard to follow at all. Frankenheimer delivers a thoroughly enjoyable film with a solid cast. I haven't read the book, maybe that is why some didn't like it, but the charges of it being confusing are unfounded. Michael Caine is the only "star", maybe also contributing to the dislike. I'd see it again, just to listen to Anthony Andrews speech on America (not that I agree). Riveting stuff, recommended."
Unbelievable you say? Guess what...
Patrick Selitrenny | Switzerland a.k.a. Helvetia Felix | 11/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many people found this movie stupid, boring or unbelievable...
Granted, "The Boys from Brazil" was far superior, in impact and horror, but this one is far more accurate than one may suspect.
While in "Boys" you had a Doctor Mengele (Gregory Peck, giving a powerful, if not overpowering interpretation) traveling around the world, trying to clone and recreate Adolf Hitler out of children (which truly sounds like science fiction to even the more far-fetched conspiracy theorist), you get here a very plausible and actually accurate depiction of a more than probable Nazi conspiracy.
Those who have watched "The Formula", starring George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, got to know that during the final days of the Third Reich, the Nazi planned contingencies to save their own neck, if not their ideology, from being annihilated by the impending Allied invaders.
In "The Formula" they tried it with synthetic fuel, negotiating with U.S. officials, still during the "Battle of the Bulge" (which by now seems to have been a fact, not fiction).
In "Holcroft Covenant", we have a bunch of SS officers convening secretly in a Bunker in Berlin and swearing an oath of allegiance to the Black Order to which they belonged, swearing that what they had started had to go on throughout generations to come and sealing the pact through what the title of the movie defines as "The Holcroft Covenant".
Such an occurrence did in fact take place, although earlier in the war and just after the fall of Stalingrad. The members of the SS knew right there and then that the war was lost and did prepare for the future.
Eerily as it may seem, many of these officers managed to slip through the network of Nazi hunters, either through monetary compensations or through other secret dealings and either landed up in South America or in other States, such as South Africa, Namibia and so on.
But some never escaped truly. They just managed to merge in the confused situation in which Europe found itself after the war, and managed to pop-up in very respectable activities and functions in the entire tissue of society, not just in neighboring Countries, but in Germany as well.
What we tend to forget, or would likely want to forget is, that they had an agenda, to which they clung to their last breath.
After all an ideology (especially extreme ones, whether from the Right or from the Left) cannot be simply swiped of through talking or reasoning. More drastic means would be needed.
But in order to do so, some compromises with the concept of a Fre World and Freedom should be made. Failing to do so, means that you won't be able to effectively do it. I am talking about reconditioning of brains, or if you will, "brain washing"...
In this movie, although taken from a fictional novel, we see the failings of our system to do what is needed, when it is needed.
The propagation of certain unhealthy doctrines and ideas throughout generations is nothing new and although it always failed to be successful in its more negative forms, it still resides as a pure illusion in the minds of people who always dream to be masters of the world.
Paranoia or maniacal sense of persecution by others can affect people in this way.
Given that there are still many Fascist and National-Socialist groups throughout the world, brings forth the question whether or not such "Covenants" were ever issued. Fact is, that "they" are still among us.
Considering all this and in the face of a work of fiction such as this movie, it is refreshing to know that someone tried to take a peak at this shady, underground world and show it for what it is and was.
Just because people seem to be nice, forthcoming or just "respectable" does not mean they truly are.
Beware of false friends. The Devil is seldom what he or she appears to be. Besides, it never comes in the form of a Monster.
It is you, it is me, it can be anyone you know and can be as charming and as trustworthy as your neighbor,... until one day...
This is what this movie is all about and as such, it is a marvelous conveyor of a message that should be heeded preciously, because no one knows his neighbor as well as he or she thinks...
Paranoia? Maybe, but also a healthy dose of wisdom and realism.
In my view, just for these qualities, the movie deserves a second watching and an introspection.
The present version of the DVD is far clearer than its VHS predecessor, and being presented in a matted format of 1.85:1 makes it more enjoyable. The sound is adequate and discreet, but very well balanced.
The acting by Michael Caine is a bit theatrical, but nevertheless very much felt. Victoria Tennant is lovable as the source of our hatred, while astonishingly so, Anthony Andrews, an otherwise brilliant actor, is left out cold. His interpretation is uneven and kind of wooden, compared to his TV-performance of "The Scarlet Pimpernel".
But still, this is a movie that would deserve a more balanced judgment.
In my view, if you are a lover of conspiracy thrillers, then this DVD must belong to your shelve collection.