So I'm not 100% sure how the 3 Days of the Condor film's bad guy plot was supposed to go. Uh...

  • There's a conspiracy within the CIA to invade the Middle East and Venezuela for oil. (That part I get)
  • Condor (Robert Redford's character) and friends accidentally find out and forward it to mission control.
  • Atwood (the old guy that got shot by Joubert), the bad guy and one of the guys in the conspiracy, hired Joubert to shoot the entire office. (Why? Couldn't they just have dismissed it and brushed it under the table? Remember that no-one but Condor was taking it seriously, and most people thought of him as a kook)
  • Condor is chased by Joubert and Atwood's lackeys throughout New York.
  • To "clean up" the conspiracy, Joubert is re-hired to take out Atwood. He does so and Condor goes free.

I'm still not sure if I understood it correctly. If I did, then I have questions.

Why did Atwood flip out immediately? Shouldn't the CIA just have dismissed it as a ridiculous plot and went through with it anyway later?

Even if they wanted to stifle the plot by murdering everyone, why did they go so far as to take an SMG to an office and shoot everyone there? That's gonna set off a lot of red flags, isn't it? Loved ones and relatives are gonna start asking questions. I might have missed something, I dunno. Wouldn't it have been easier to do so through "unrelated" incidents? I mean, that's still kinda fishy, just not immediately so.

  • It should be noted that the original novel had a (slightly) more credible plot and reason for the removal of the section.
    – CGCampbell
    Jan 11, 2017 at 4:01

2 Answers 2


They went so far as to take an SMG to an office and shoot everyone, because it was vitally necessary to the plot.

This is a common problem is most, maybe all, paranoia thrillers: the bad guys give themselves away by ineptly trying to cover up the crime.

The first spoken line in the trailer for The Pelican Brief gives the game away. "Everyone I have told about the Brief is dead." Well, duh. You had a baseless and unprovable suspicion and you would have looked like a nut -- except there is a pile of dead bodies, without which the movie would be over.

Movies like Three Days Of The Condor, The Pelican Brief, Conspiracy Theory, Enemy Of The State, JFK, Shooter and so on have as their basic premise that there is an enormous evil force capable of doing anything, except killing the (typically untrained, unprotected) protagonist.

Asking why is like going to the opera and asking why the performers don't stop singing and just talk like normal people. This is an opera!


Well, sure it would raise red flags, but if everyone who knew the existence of the report who wasn't in on the scheme was dead, there would be nothing to connect the red flags to the actual schemes. The thing is, they were a CIA office, so there'd be a million other reports and all kinds of possible skullduggery that weren't buried by higher-ups in the organization that investigators would spin there wheels chasing down.

Maybe saying "nothing there, move on" prevents anyone from stopping the wheels from going into motion, but after events unfold as detailed in the report, someone is going to say "hey, we sent a report about this" and questions will be asked what happened to it, and when the people who dismissed the report are found to be involved in activities detailed, then the most important part of their plan has failed - getting away with it.

Condor unexpectedly breaking protocol/regulations and using the back door to grab food was the only thing that prevented them from succeeding.

Yeah, killing everyone might seem extreme, but compared to starting major wars to protect resource interests?

  • 2
    Yeah. What are the chances of the US doing that... Nov 11, 2016 at 18:33
  • @M-Manectric - I was completely talking about as the movie plot unfolded, not even thinking about the examples in reality when I wrote that answer. Good point! Nov 11, 2016 at 18:42

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