(based on his novel):
seems to have been many interests involved in the making of The Formula,
and they all point in different directions, making it an untidy and
uneven, but peculiarly interesting film. The direction, by John G.
Avildsen, surges the film forward as a classically structured political
mystery thriller, with George C. Scott in an industrious lead, whereas
the story from Steve Shagan unveils scenarios and hypotheses that at
the time of production could seem overly paranoid, but that in
contemporary light come off as alarmingly foresighted. Ultimately, there
is Marlon Brando, operating, it seems, in a world of his own, apparently
mocking both himself, his co-star and the subject material, but arguably
drawing the right attention to his character. It is Brando who adds the
satire to spice the film up, but next to the straight, realistic
performances from Scott and Keller, it makes the film a dramatic paradox.
The Formula remains thematically interesting throughout, but the
craftsmanship is uneven, reportedly due to Shagan and Avildsen pulling in
different directions. There's no doubt about the ambition of both,
however, and one cannot refrain from thinking that with a tad better
editing, and some subtler choices in crucial scenes, the film would have
had a much better reputation.