The Osterman Weekend (film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Osterman Weekend is a 1983 American suspense thriller film directed by Sam Peckinpah, based on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum. The film stars Rutger Hauer, John Hurt, Burt Lancaster, Dennis Hopper, Meg Foster, Helen Shaver, Chris Sarandon and Craig T. Nelson. It was Peckinpah's final film before his death in 1984.


CIA director Maxwell Danforth (Burt Lancaster) watches a recording of agent Laurence Fassett (John Hurt) and his wife (Merete Van Kamp) having sex. When Fassett goes into the bathroom to take a shower, two assassins enter the bedroom and kill his wife. Fassett, unaware of his employer's involvement, is consumed by grief and rage. He hunts the assassins, eventually uncovering a Soviet spy network known as Omega.

Fassett tells the director that he wants to turn some of Omega's agents to the side of the West. He sees an opportunity in John Tanner (Rutger Hauer), a controversial television journalist who is highly critical of government abuses of power. Fassett explains that Tanner's closest friends are Omega agents. He believes Tanner could convince the Soviet spies to defect. He offers videotaped evidence of Tanner's friends discussing financial matters with a Russian man, whom Fassett identifies as a KGB agent. Tanner met his friends in college, and they have all gone on to successful careers. The spies are Bernard Osterman (Craig T. Nelson), a television producer who knows martial arts; Richard Tremayne (Dennis Hopper), a plastic surgeon; and stock trader Joseph Cardone (Chris Sarandon). Tanner agrees, but only on the condition that someone from the CIA appear as a guest on his show. Danforth agrees to this condition.

Tanner's troubled marriage is not improved when he asks his wife, Ali (Meg Foster), to take their son out of town for the weekend without him. He does not want them involved but cannot tell her why he wants her to stay away. While Tanner is driving his wife and son to the airport, their car is ambushed, and Ali and the child are kidnapped. With Fassett's intervention they are rescued unhurt and the kidnapper is shot dead. In the meantime, Tanner's home has been wired with closed circuit video so Fassett can gather more evidence. Now fully aware that Tanner is involved with the CIA, Ali and their son are allowed to stay.

Osterman, Tremayne and Cardone arrive for the weekend, each having recently encountered difficulties engineered by the CIA in order to unsettle them and make them receptive to defection. The mood is tense. On the second night, Fassett sends a video feed to Tanner's living room television, replaying the evidence of the three men meeting with the KGB agent. Ali has a heated argument with Tremayne's wife, Virginia (Helen Shaver), and everyone retires to their rooms. Tanner's son discovers the severed head of the family dog in the refrigerator, but it turns out to be fake. Tanner has had enough and demands that his guests leave. Tanner confronts Fassett and insists he arrest the suspects. Fassett orders a guard to kill the broadcaster.

Cardone and Tremayne and their wives escape in Tanner's RV. Tanner confronts Osterman and assaults him. Osterman easily overpowers him, and demands an explanation. Tanner says that he knows that Osterman and his friends are Soviet agents. Osterman dismisses the accusation; he explains that they have been illegally sheltering money in Swiss bank accounts to avoid taxation, but insists they are not traitors.

Fassett appears on the television and admits that he knows Osterman and his friends are only tax evaders. Fassett kills the Tremaynes and Cardones by remotely detonating an explosive device on the RV. He sends his soldiers into the house to kill Osterman and Tanner. Fassett taunts Tanner during the attack on the house, revealing that Danforth authorized his wife's murder. Fassett offers to release Tanner's family if Tanner will expose Danforth on television.

Sometime later, Danforth prepares for his remote interview with Tanner. Danforth is at his office and will speak into a camera and microphone crewed by the TV station. Tanner introduces Fassett on the air and Danforth becomes enraged when he realizes he has been tricked. Fassett, who is also being filmed remotely, exposes Danforth as a murderer. Fassett's remote location is a secret, but it is clear someone is coming for him. It is revealed that Tanner himself has pre-recorded his questions for both men and has used the video feed to locate Fassett, whom he shoots and kills. He then rescues his wife, his son, and his dog.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Osterman Weekend (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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