Who? Film Details
Overview: After an American scientist is severely injured and scarred in a car crash along the border with East Germany, he is captured by East German military. The scientists use metal implants to save him. Once he’s back in the States, no one can tell if it’s really him, so an intelligence specialist must determine who is under the “mask”.
Review: “Who?” is an intriguing, low-key, totally unusual Cold War thriller that has faded undeservedly into obscurity. While not a lost classic by any stretch of the imagination, it remains a commendable little film which explores issues of identity and political paranoia in an affecting way. Based on an Algis Budrys novel, and adapted for the screen by John Gould, it is a film of much talk and little action…. therefore, viewers will need to give it a certain level of attention in order to follow the plot and understand the characters. Those who prefer special effects, explosions and other such brain candy will probably not enjoy it. American scientist Lucas Martino (Joseph Bova) is badly injured in a car accident whilst in the Eastern Bloc. He is rushed to hospital and saved by Communist doctors, but his face and much of his body is so grotesquely disfigured that they have to use metallic plating to rebuild him. By the time Martino is “repaired”, he looks more like a robot than a man. A while later, Martino is returned to the U.S, but his startling new “look” arouses immediate suspicion. The American government wonder whether the real Martino has been sent back to them or if they have, in fact, been handed a Soviet spy disguised as this strange robotic man. Agent Sean Rogers (Elliot Gould) is given the task of interrogating the robotic man, to find out if he is who he claims to be or an impostor. Martino insists that he is still the same man, and that only his appearance has altered, but Rogers suspects that there is more to the case than meets the eye. Could the whole thing really be an audacious Russian spy plot? Or perhaps the Americans DO have Martino but he has been brainwashed by the Russians into carrying out espionage activities for them? Or maybe even the bewildered metal man is genuinely telling the truth, struggling to come to terms with his incredible new appearance in a paranoid world where all around him refuse to trust him? Gould is good as the “hero”, a man whose sense of accountability towards national security motivates, and occasionally clouds, his quest for the truth. Also good is Trevor Howard as the Russian Colonel Azarin, who is seen in flashback trying to brainwash the injured Martino (not until the end of the movie do we learn if his brainwashing efforts were successful). But best of all is Joseph Bova as the robotic victim, evoking a mix of sympathy and suspicion with his voice and mannerisms, despite the fact that his face is concealed behind an inexpressive metal mask. Indeed, “Who?” is a well-acted offering throughout. The film’s faults lie elsewhere. Jack Gold’s direction is too pedestrian and low-key for the movie’s own good. Many of the scenes are so dully staged and detached and grey that the film has a somewhat cold feel to it. An air of cynicism hangs over the proceedings – one might almost call it “anti-entertainment” or “anti-cinema”. This actually damages the film in some ways and undoes the effect of the good performances and thought-provoking story-line. I’d still recommend “Who?” if just for its relatively strange ideas, but it is undoubtedly a picture that could have amounted to much, much more.
Duration: 93 min
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Also known as: Ο άνθρωπος με την ατσάλινη μάσκα,Who? l’uomo dai due volti,El hombre de la máscara de acero,Lucas Martino, O Homem de Metal,Who?,Spionen uten ansikt,Der Mann aus Metall,Das Phantom mit der Stahlmaske,Ο κατάσκοπος με την σιδερένια μάσκα,O Homem da Máscara Dourada,Teräsnaamio,The Man with the Steel Mask,Spionen utan ansikte,La máscara de acero,Roboman,L.M. O Homem de Metal,Robo Man,Prisoner of the Skull,Mannen med stålmasken