A thriller, to be worth the money, ought to be either logical enough to compel suspense or zany enough that one doesn't care whether it makes sense. "The Amateur," based on a novel by Robert Littell, kills a satisfactory number of people under picturesque and gruesome circumstances, but there are more holes in the story than in the victims. First off, we see John Savage as a scholarly CIA cipher specialist whose fiancee is murdered by the leader of a terrorist band that is holding hostages in the U.S. consulate in Munich. I mean, friends, he hauls her out on the broad empty sidewalk and blows her away while about a zillion cops track him through their rifle scopes. Then he turns around and slowly walks back into the building, and the cops just watch. Okay, so this poor lady was murdered on international television, but only her father and fiance meet the plane bearing her casket and only they attend her funeral. Okay, so the CIA won't do anything about this Russki-backed terrorist group, so our hero, by pretending to be working on the code message that got Mary Queen of Scots kippered by Queen Elizabeth the First, gets access to Big Bertha the computer and prints out the goods on some CIA scam and blackmails the Company into training him as an assassin and inserting him into Czechoslovakia to get the terrorists. Cut to the Czech border, where the CIA local rep makes sure the guide who's leading our man in learns the address of the safe house in Prague where our hero's supposed to lay up. The guide has no need to know the address, he's just the border man, but if they didn't tell him, see, he couldn't tell the Russians, who find him after the CIA guy shoots the guide but doesn't kill him. So anyway our hero runs all the way to Prague, yes, where the Russians wait patiently. Then the Russians stand around and watch while our guy runs all over Prague and shoots one person and poisons another, carefully leaving a witness who knows exactly who he's going to kill next, and then the Russians stand around some more while he does it. Everybody keeps a straight face. It goes on like this for quite a while longer. What's supposed to keep us in suspense, apparently, is wondering when the cast is going to break down in helpless giggles and walk off the set.
THE AMATEUR -- At the Aspen Hill, Crofton Cinema, Laurel Towncenter, Loehmann's Plaza, NTI Annandale, NTI Marlow, NTI New Carrollton, NTI White Flint, Roth's Quince Orchard, Roth's Tysons Corner, Showcase Beacon Mall, Showcase Fair City Mall, Sterling Towncenter and Tenley Circle.