It’s impossible not to compare this movie with Z, especially given how much I love Z. Here, instead of a super intense plot with an overwhelming number of characters and events, we have a fairly standard investigation/rescue mission, mostly focusing on Charles Horman and his relatives. The acting felt a bit stagey at times, which in such a personal movie is a bit of a problem. Still, Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek do a pretty good job overall, and Ed Horman’s slow loss of faith in the system that was supposed to keep his son safe is quite striking.
It’s unfortunate that Costa-Gavras didn’t have many facts to work with, since details of the US’s role in the coup and Charles’ fate wouldn’t be revealed for another 20 years. I think he would’ve been able to make a far more provocative movie if he knew it then.