Robert Redford (Joseph Turner), Faye Dunawayová (Kathy Hale), Cliff Robertson (J. Higgins), Max von Sydow (G. Joubert), John Houseman (pan Wabash), Addison Powell (Leonard Atwood)
The CIA knows him as Condor. What he knows about them has just made him an Endangered Species.
Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is an employee of the CIA. He's not a secret agent, his job is to read, and he and his co-workers at the American Literary Historical Society read everything; books, comics, magazines, and they scan everything into a database to be cross-checked against real CIA operations. On a rainy December morning it's business as usual, so no one notices the non-descript man sitting in plain sedan across the street from Joe's building, checking off names of every employee as they enter.Inside, Joe looks for an answer to a letter he'd sent to the main CIA office at Langley. He has a theory about connections he's noticed between operations in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and other locations around the world, but so far there's no response. Noon approaches, and it's his turn to go out for lunch. Since it's still raining, he ducks out the basement door (which is against regulations) and cuts through several back alleys to the deli. Meanwhile, the sedan out front quietly pulls away after signaling to 3 men waiting in the street. They move in with quiet determination and knock on the front door.At the deli around the block, Joe picks up lunch for the others and then runs back. Since the rain has stopped, he goes to the front door, and buzzes the security intercom to be let in, but gets no answer. Pushing on the door, he finds it is unlocked, which it never is. Inside he finds a scene of carnage. Everyone has been murdered, shot to death in the few minutes he has been gone. Fighting down his shock and horror, he grabs a pistol from the receptionist's desk and flees.Suddenly, everyone on the street looks suspicious, and Joe realizes that whoever killed his coworkers is probably still looking for him. He finds a payphone and calls an emergency contact number at the CIA. This is...uh...'Condor' Joe says, fighting through the shock to remember his code name. The section's been hit. Everyone's dead. Told not to panic, and to call back in two hours, a CIA response team quickly arrives and verifies Joe's story. Higgens (Cliff Robertson), the section chief in New York, wonders why in the world someone would take out a research office like this, and calls his supervisor at CIA headquarters.Joe calls back and is told to stay alive 1 more hour. He's to meet his dept. head in a specified back alley off 72nd street where he'll be picked up and brought in safely, but when Joe enters the alley, shots ring out. His own department head is trying to kill him. Joe fires back and wounds the man, then runs away in a panic. Convinced he can trust no one, in desperation he kidnaps a woman on the street as she gets into her truck. Kathy (Faye Dunaway) is terrified, but drives Turner to her apartment. Terrified himself, he holds the gun on her as he tries to figure out what to do next.Gradually, Kathy begins to realize that Turner is in real trouble and doesn't want to hurt her, but she still doesn't believe his story. He goes out to try and contact an old friend and get some help, but at the friend's apartment, he finds only another bullet-riddled body. Realizing the assassin is hard on his tail, he tries to get out of the building alive, and when he gets on the elevator, Joe finds himself next to a quiet man in a trenchcoat. Some inner sense tells him that this fellow is part of the problem, and Joe hesitates as the other man slowly walks out through the lobby. Convincing a group of loitering youth to walk out with him, he makes it back to Kathy's Bronco as the trenchcoated man waits across the street, a rifle trained on Turner's back. Unable to get a clear shot, Joubert (Max Von Sydow) runs after the truck and manages to get the license plate number.Returning to Kathy's apartment, he agrees to let her take a shower and get changed. While waiting, a mailman knocks at the door with a package. Joe opens the door and once inside he pulls a machine gun on Joe and opens fire. Diving behind the furniture, he fires back with the pistol, and both men wind up in a fight to the death. Kathy emerges from her shower to find her apartment trashed and Joe sitting next to a dead mailman. Now that they know where he is, she's involved too, and they must flee before another hit man arrives.Despite his fear, Joe has the beginnings of a plan, and Kathy agrees to help. They visit the NYC office of the CIA and Kathy pretends to apply for a job, then gets lost while she looks for Joe's section chief, Higgins. Once spotted, she helps Joe kidnap him while he eats lunch, and Higgins is hustled into the back of Kathy's Bronco. Interrogated by Turner, he confesses that he doesn't know what's going on any more that they do. This is obviously an inside operation, he says.Joe manages to put the pieces together by tracking down Joubert, the quiet man in the trenchcoat. Tapping into the phone exchange in Joubert's hotel, he monitors the calls, and places an anonymous one himself to Joubert. Do you believe the Condor is an endangered species? he asks, and hangs up. Joubert quickly calls his controller, and Joe is able to track the call to a man named Atwood, a high-level supervisor in the CIA. As he prepares to confront Atwood, Joe thanks Kathy for all her help, and reluctantly leaves her.At Atwood's country home, the stereo suddenly comes on in the middle of the night, and when he investigates the noise in his study he finds Turner sitting quietly in a chair, holding a gun. Forced to confess, Atwood tells Joe that the hit on the section was due to that paper he'd sent to CIA headquarters, the one about the connections to various countries around the world. Atwood is involved in a scheme to manipulate the world's oil markets and Turner's paper had hit too close to the truth. He and anyone else who might know about it had to be eliminated. Furious, Joe points the gun at Atwood.Drop the gun, says a quiet voice; It's Joubert, standing quietly behind him. Realizing his defeat, Joe drops the pistol on the floor and waits for the inevitable, thinking that at least now he knows why all this has happened. But when Joubert fires, Joe is startled to see that it's Atwood who's been shot instead. Joubert calmly begins to wipe down the room, explaining that 'Condor' was no longer the target. Atwood had become an embarrassment, he explains to a stunned Joe, leading him outside the house and handing back his pistol. Can I drop you somewhere? he asks in a friendly tone.With a new lease on life, Joe still has a few loose ends to tie up. Returning to New York, Joe waits for Higgins to walk past on the street, and they have a tense final confrontation. Higgins explains that the CIA does business this way because they need to. There is no other way. Turner disagrees, and as they stop in front of the offices of the New York Times, Turner tells Higgins that they've become too used to killing people as part of their job. He's told a reporter everything.Ah, you fool, sighs Higgins. You've done more harm than you know. As Turner walks away, Higgins calls after him. It didn't have to end this way Condor. You're about to become a very lonely man. Joe seems not to care. He's had his revenge on the CIA, and he fades away into the crowd.