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Target (1985 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Film poster
Directed byArthur Penn
Screenplay byJosé Luis Navarro (as Howard Berk)
Don Petersen
Story byLeonard B. Stern
Produced byDavid Brown
Richard D. Zanuck
CinematographyJean Tournier
Edited byRichard P. Cirincione
Stephen A. Rotter
Music byMichael Small
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • November 8, 1985 (1985-11-08)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12.9 million[1]
Box office$9,023,199 (US/Canada)[2]

Target is a 1985 American mystery thriller film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Matt Dillon and Gene Hackman. It was the last film distributed by Warner Bros. before ending the distribution deal with CBS and shutting down its film production arm.

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In Dallas, after his wife leaves for Europe, businessman Walter Lloyd attempts to bond with his college-age son Chris. One night, the two are awoken by a phone call from Paris informing Walter that Donna has been missing for two days. Chris and Walter decide to go to Paris to find her.

At the airport, Chris bumps into Carla, a backpacker. Walter, on the other hand, bumps into a man with a gun who shows him Donna's jewelry. A man in glasses then points a gun at them and, trying to kill Walter, shoots the man holding him up before disappearing. Walter surreptitiously scoops the dead man's gun up.

At the hotel in Paris, while Chris sleeps, Walter slides through the American embassy and tells its director, an old friend named Barney Taber, that Donna has been kidnapped.

Walter regroups with Chris at the hotel restaurant, reveals that Donna has been kidnapped, and tells him the real story about the shooting at the airport. Walter then heads out of the hotel, telling Chris to stay there. Chris follows him, and saves his life when a car sprays gunshots at Walter. They escape, and Walter confesses that he used to work for the CIA. He was a journalist in France when an agent "tuned into him" at a party. Walter gave up his life as a spy, however, when he met Donna and Chris was born.

Walter and Chris go to Taber, where they find that another agent, Clay, has been tailing him. Walter decides it is best to look up an old contact of his, a German operative named Lise.

En route to Paris, they spot a tail on them. Walter, an expert driver, shakes the tail at high speeds. When the two lay a trap for the tail, they find out that they are being watched by the CIA to make sure they do not get into trouble. Walter tells him to pull the tail off, warning that if he sees him again, he "won't see him again".

After buying clothes, the two leave for Hamburg by train, evading a CIA agent in the process. At the train station, Walter and Chris see a man approach a similar pair - a young man and his father - yelling "Mendelssohn" to them. The man then grabs a fiddle and begins playing a tune. Walter and Chris walk away. On the way out, Chris spots Clara.

They arrive at Lise's, where she helps them get settled. The next day, Walter and Chris decide to meet "The Colonel", Walter's old boss. Chris spots the fiddler, and Walter tears off in the car. They attempt to lose their pursuers, but when they cannot, Walter takes off on foot with Chris presumably driving to meet the Colonel. When Chris spots the assassin who attempted to kill Walter earlier, he sticks around, deciding to rescue his father. Cornered by the two undercover agents, Walter jumps off the pier onto a passing ferry. The two agents hum the tune to Walter, and point for him to meet them further up the channel. The eyeglass-wearing assassin attempts to kill Walter, but ultimately only kills one of the agents attempting to catch up with Walter. Chris picks Walter up, and the two drive to the Colonel's.

At the Colonel's, Walter asks him about the man at the airport - Heinz Henke. They recall "Operation Clean Sweep", where they killed five of six agents. Walter then hums the tune, which turns out to be Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. "Mendelssohn" was the codename of Schroeder, the agent who escaped "Clean Sweep".

Later that night, Walter leaves for West Berlin, to the Marie-Louise Pension, leaving Chris in the care of Lise. Chris then leaves on a train to Frankfurt, where he will presumably be safe with a contact of Lise's.

The assassin later visits and tortures the emphysema-ridden Colonel for the Lloyds' location by depriving him of oxygen. Though the Colonel does not give them up, his caretaker does, and the assassin kills both of them.

At the train station, Chris spots Carla, who is supposedly headed to Berlin to stay with friends. Chris decides to surprise her by changing his travel plans to Berlin. There, the two have sex.

The next morning, Chris visits his father. Walter sends Chris out to keep watch at a café near the pension.

Their plan is disrupted, however, when Carla appears at the café, saying she followed him out of jealousy. Chris spots the assassin and moves to signal Walter, but Carla pulls out a gun and forces him to stay put. The assassin enters the apartment, where Walter shoots him dead. Chris slugs Carla and flees with Walter.

That night, after ditching the gun in a river, Walter says goodbye to Chris before heading into East Berlin. Despite being scared he will never see Walter again, Chris follows his instructions and heads to the US Embassy in Berlin. Once through the border in East Berlin, Walter is picked up by a courier who takes him to a farm in the country to meet with Schroeder.

Meanwhile, Chris comes back into Taber's custody, where the CIA pumps him for information. Following Walter's advice, Chris gives them no information, much to the frustration of the CIA.

At the farm, Schroeder says that his family, a wife and two children, were murdered by the CIA. Walter denies it, saying that he investigated the killings, but all his people were cleared. Walter convinces Schroeder that there is another party involved. He mentions that the group that has been trying to kill him since he arrived in Europe may have "walked in both camps."

In Taber's office, Chris is contacted by Walter, who tells him to head to an abandoned air force base where the CIA used to exchange captured agents with the East. Though he proceeds alone to East Berlin, Taber and Clay catch up with him and Walter. While Walter and Taber talk, Chris walks over to the hangar nearby and finds Donna bound and gagged, wrapped in plastic explosives.

Walter and Clay defuse the bomb. Taber then pulls out a gun and shoots Clay. He is the double agent who betrayed both Walter and Schroeder and was responsible for the death of the latter's family. He forces the Lloyds to kneel, but Walter gets the jump on him when Schroeder reappears. Schroeder then sends Walter, Donna and Chris away before blowing himself and Taber up with the explosives. The family, reunited, embrace.



The film was Penn's first since the commercial failure Four Friends released in 1981.[1] It was the first film shot by Penn in Europe.[1] Filming took place in Paris, France; Berlin and Hamburg, Germany; Dallas and Corpus Christi, Texas.[3] The film was made for $1.4 million less than its $12.9 million budget.[1][3]


The film was released on November 8, 1985 on 1,085 screens in the United States and opened in second place behind Death Wish 3 with a weekend gross of $2,670,522.[4] It grossed a total of $9 million in the United States and Canada.[2]

The film received a mixed response from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, Target holds a rating of 62% from 26 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Target's increasingly implausible plot is offset by a commanding performance from Gene Hackman, reunited with director Arthur Penn."[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Penn Goes Commercial But Still Keeps Personal Edge On 'Target'". Variety. November 13, 1985. p. 7.
  2. ^ a b Target at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b Target at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films
  4. ^ "Fatigued B.O. Not Helped By Bows; 'Wish' Still Leads". Variety. November 13, 1985. p. 3.
  5. ^ "Target". Rotten Tomatoes.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 June 2024, at 16:40
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