This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Peter Labuza’s review published on Letterboxd :
This review may contain spoilers.
In a world of wires, technology, and automated responses, a mechanical man fights for agency.
Further thoughts: I love how much this film is about the automation of society. Not only do we see it in the mechanized Shaw and his automated responses, but also in the way salutes are used, wires seem to be hanging from every room almost inexplicably, and media is used (It's not important what the VP says on television, just that it is seen as a triumphant TV moment: this is truly the ultimate McCluhan film).
HOWEVER, I need to pull a Mike D'Angelo-style call out that the plot plays way too loose with the rules that it sets up.
1) The point of the hypnosis is that Shaw can't remember what he does and feels no emotion toward it when he does it, and yet he is seen crying after killing the senator/his wife.
2) Sinatra's plan to let him go after Shaw reveals everything, including the American agent, MAKES NO SENSE. In fact, the film hangs a lantern in the scene where Shaw admits he is stupid. It's a huge contrivance.
3) The scene in which Shaw's old girlfriend Jocelyn shows up in the Queen of Diamonds makes no sense. Yes it's a funny joke, but shouldn't that make him follow her every order as she wears it? How does he snap out of it and disappear? Again, loose rules.
And not a plot detail, but I'd really wish I'd see the version where Sinatra isn't the star. You never feel like this guy experienced the war. Imagine this with Robert Ryan in the starring role instead.
Still, its historical and thematic importance cannot be denied, and some of the sequences are out of this world, and its strange to imagine this film being made at the height of the JFK presidency instead of the Nixon era. An essential New Hollywood pre-cursor.