Top 10 Secret Organisations On Film!

In the imminent release of the Philip K Dick adaptation The Adjustment Bureau, politician Matt Damon finds his affections for Emily Blunt's ballerina disrupted by mysterious and ruthless figures the Agents of Fate, who attempt everything within their power to keep Damon and Blunt apart. So, it seems like an apt moment to take a look at ten other shadowy organisations within recent Hollywood paranoid history. As is the nature with exposing these secret organisations there may be a few spoilers...

10. Quantum in Quantum of Solace

Judi Dench's M puts it the best in Marc Forster's Bond movie played at double speed when she wonders;
'When someone says "We've got people everywhere", you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!'
Yes, Quantum, a mysterious organisation and spiritual successors or pre-decessors (this is 'Bond Begins' after all) to SPECTRE. Forster does a lovely job of creating a sense of mystery about this group, including a visual metaphor during the opera scene so blatant it practically has the words 'Visual metaphor' written on it in the Impact font. Whilst Quantum do have people everywhere they're, in this instance, spear-headed by Mathieu Amalric's lizard-like Dominic Greene who wants to own the Water Works on Bolivia's Monopoly board. I got the rather silly notion that by the end of the film Greene would have lost his hair, scarred his face and adopted a pet cat, instead I got one of the most half-baked Bond movies since, well, the last one.

9. Norsefire - V For Vendetta

Alan Moore's reaction to British politics seems to have come full circle, and is especially relevant now; admittedly the film tones down a lot of Moore's allegory, but, personally, I feel the themes of the film are powerfully delivered by debutant director James McTeigue. In this adaptation by the Wachowskis, Norsefire engineered a national tragedy in order to generate fear and steer voters into winning an election and turning Britian into a totalitarian state, headed by John Hurt as Adam Sutler. Fortunately a somewhat swashbuckling anarchist, and former guinea pig (the scientific kind, not the cute fluffy kind) V has orchestrated a course of anarchy that finally awakens the dulled, apathetic and fearful people of Britain into standing up for what they believe in by descending upon Westminster wearing Guy Fawkes masks, the military stand down and the Houses of Parliament explodes. Not quite how the student protests went, but, close enough.

8. Human Traffickers - Taken

Put upon ex-CIA man Bryan (Liam Neeson) is a bit nervous about his daughter going off to follow "hip rock band", er, U2 on tour around Europe, and he damn well should be too; seconds after she, and her friend Amanda, stepped off the plane they're targeted and kidnapped by a sex trafficking organisation of shady Albanians. Luckily, Kim had time to give daddy a ring, leaving him to hop on a plane and bring his 'very particular set of skills' to track her down. What this translates to is Liam Neeson proceeds to punch absolutely everyone he meets in order to find his daughter; policemen, waiters, women, cats, there isn't anything Neeson won't punch, or stab come to think of it, or jab electrodes into their legs and fry the truth out of them. It's somewhat cathartic to see someone so determined to barge into the shady happenings that (in the case of French police chief Jean Claude) officials are bribed to ignore. This bile driven rage made Taken a humongous sleeper hit and Neeson a somewhat unlikely action star, and made co-star Famke Janssen act as a Goodwill Amabassador at the U.N. By the time Neeson manages to save his daughter from the miserable fate that befell Amanda he has killed, at least, 35 people and somewhat exposed an organisation that runs from the Parisian whores to elite million-dollar girl auctions.

7. NSA - Enemy of the State

How do you know the NSA are evil? Well, for starters, they're responsible for killing off the wonderful Jason Lee within the opening half an hour of this Will Smith/Jerry Bruckheimer vehicle. Though admirably Jon Voight's team is made up of goofballs such as Jack Black, Scott Caan and Jamie Kennedy. But watch out though because this team have super advanced technology that can turn innocent lingerie store CCTV into a full on 3D x-ray super scanner, or something.

6. Everyone - The Truman Show

You ever have that feeling like everybody's watching you? Well, you're either a paranoid nutjob or you're Jim Carrey's Truman Burbank, who is quite literally the centre of his universe; an immaculately constructed, pastel-coloured American seaside resort that is home to an intricate network of hidden cameras that broadcast his every move to millions of adoring fans around the world. Peter Weir's masterpiece brilliantly turns the actors and the behind the scenes team into the wicked conspirators in Truman's fate, with Ed Harris's Christof aiming for his ultimate goal of the world's first on air conception and, then, franchising. Andrew Niccol's screenplay fast became the stuff of fact and not just science fiction and it's relatively real life counter-part can be witnessed in the glut of reality TV shows in its wake, or depressing films such as Red Road.

5. The Ministry - Brazil

The propaganda that adorns the walls and billboards of Terry Gilliam's dystopian bureaucratic nightmare Brazil is not unlike many of the 'If you suspect it, report it warnings' across London transport. This is just one way, within Gilliam's dark comedy, that the elusive Ministry control the population into a mild panic about potential terrorists. Another is seen in the masses of mindless consumerism that obssesses Sam Lowry's (Jonathan Pryce) mother and experimental plastic surgery that slowly eats away at her friend, culminating in a delightfully gruesome funeral during a fantasy sequence. Ultimately though it's the sheer ammount of pedantry and paperwork that curbs people's rights in this alternate reality, and a simple act of mistaken idenity and government incompetence resulting in the murder of an innocent man that slowly awakens Lowry to injustice and his own dreams. Teamed with freedom fighter Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), Lowry escapes the shackles of his office job, gets the girl of his dreams and blows up the office. Until, of course, we realise he's just been thrust into a delusional fantasy at a result of torture at the hands of his best friend Jack Lint (Michael Palin). A fitting metaphor for anyone who, like me, suffers through 9 to 5 daydreaming.

4. CRS - The Game

Michael Douglas' aloof millionaire Nicholas Van Orton is given a peculiar birthday present from his somewhat wayward brother Conrad, a psychologically complex entertainment brought to you by a company called Consumer Recreation Products. It's a game that's different for everyone, hence the huge ammount of The Manchurian Candidate style testing that Nicholas finds himself subjected to. Then a creepy clown doll appears on his front lawn, his television has a conversation with him and Deborah Kara Unger spills wine on his suit. This leads Nicholas down a rabbit hole of twists and turns, where he discovers that CRS are actually a huge con outfit and they've stripped him of his identity, destroyed his life and taken all his money. Depressed, and having just accidentally shot his brother in the stomach, Nicholas commits suicide landing - SURPRISE - in the middle of his birthday party. Yes, it was all a big trick, paid for by reformed Conrad to try and get his uptight brother to loosen up a bit. Huzzah! Still, pretty shady though...

3. The Agents - The Matrix

Next time you're checking out someone on the street just be wary that when you turn around for one last peek they haven't suddenly morphed into a gun-toting Hugo Weaving. Such is the power of the Agents, basically the police force over the machine created world of the Matrix, or, I guess anti-virus software stamping out the human 'disease' that Weaving's Agent Smith pontificates on. They've got people everywhere in as much as they can overwrite your programming, put a wall up where there wasn't one before and shove weird belly spiders into you after making your mouth seal up. In the sequels Smith goes a bit off the rails and starts cut-n-pasting himself all over the shop, but we'll turn a blind eye to that and focus on the edge-of-your-seat thrills of the 1999 sci-fi classics giddy man morphing marvels that can dodge bullets, punch through walls and take an underground train to the face and barely crinkle their suit.

2. Treadstone - The Bourne Series

Doug Liman's original Bourne flick did a great job of re-casting all powerful government programs as being almost entirely staffed by fresh faced post-grads, headed up by the oily Chris Cooper and the blustering Brian Cox they'd created a kind of brain-washed super-assassin that had gone a bit awry in the shape of amnesiac agent Jason Bourne. Here Matt Damon confounded expectations by proving himself to be a formidable action as well as a strong emotional actor (traits that will hopefully serve him well in The Adjustment Bureau), as he took on Treadstone's network of sleeper cells including Clive Owen's sharp-shooting Professor, window smashing biro-impaled Kali exper Castel, though third asset Manheim gets to bump off his boss and escape bouth Bourne's supremacy and his ultimatum, so, well done that guy. As the sequels continued to impress the depths of Treadstone and ultimately Operation Blackbriar are exposed, usually via the means of car chases, punch ups and shoot outs.

1. The Strangers - Dark City

Dressed in snappily similar retro styled attire to The Adjustment Bureau's Hands of Fate, the Strangers only come out when the city sleeps in Alex Proyas' masterful sci-fi tale. John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up one night to find everyone else asleep, he's quickly pursued by pale faced oddballs with the power to move and morph buildings, headed up by Richard O'Brien's simy Mr. Hand and overseen by Ian Richardson's stately Mr. Book. Murdoch finds himself framed for a murder he doesn't remember committing, tracked by William Hurt's accordion playing Inspector Frank Bumstead, married to the beautiful Jennifer Connelly and psycho-analysed by Kiefer Sutherland's stammering, twitchy Dr. Schreber. Murdoch goes on something of a paper chase, following his memories around to try and discover who he really is, why everyone seems to suffer from collective narcolepsy and when, exactly, does the sun ever come out? I just wrote a paragraph spoiling the movie but decided to delete it, because I feel that this film is a somewhat unappreciated classic and you should check out the Director's Cut because it gets rid of the stupid opening narration that basically spoils the film. So, which deceptive factions do it for you, as I've inevitably forgotten some due to all the brain-washing they've subjected me to...
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Owain Paciuszko hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.