Picks and Pans Review: The Whistle Blower

updated 09/21/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/21/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The James Bond films have always portrayed the world of espionage as escapist fantasy. For something closer to the real thing, check out this grim British import, which seems as authentic as a Burberry trenchcoat. Michael Caine gives his semiweekly rich performance, this time as the salesman father of Nigel (Chariots of Fire) Havers, also engaging as an idealistic linguist who works for British intelligence. First, one of Havers' colleagues is discovered to have been a mole from Moscow. Then, suspiciously, some other co-workers commit suicide. When Havers learns that the "suicides" are part of a cover-up, Caine thinks he should keep quiet. He's more worried that his son might lose a good job. But after Havers dies, also in an apparent suicide, Caine's practical manner underscores the relentlessness of his search to get at the truth of his son's death. "I never understood about revolutionaries," he says tearfully at the funeral. "I never had the stomach for it. I do now." The perspicacious casting also includes Sir John Gielgud as a smug government leader and James Fox as a steely intelligence superior. The Whistle Blower is an absorbing spy yarn tightly woven by director Simon (TV's Anna Karenina) Langton. It will knock the living daylights out of you. (PG)

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