Stanley Kramer was obviously trying for a message with this film, but it got lost within the intricate plot twists. Hackman is a San Quentin inmate who is busted out of prison by a secret organization. In return, he has to assassinate someone. Nothing is explained to Hackman or the audience: Who is he supposed to kill? And why? Who knows, who cares; we know it all adds up to a conspiracy in the end--not your everyday conspiracy but one organized by that proverbial, unseen body of Kafkaesque persons know as "They." Hackman spends the entire film stumbling through a crazy maze of events from San Francisco to Spain (or maybe it's Costa Rica) to southern California, all the while refusing to carry out his part of the deal. He makes some important people very angry in the process, not the least of them being Widmark. Sometimes Kramer's messages have a pointed edge that deserve attention, and at other times (like in THE DOMINO PRINCIPLE) the movie theaters of the world would be a better place if he'd keep them to himself.