Despite its anachronistic emulation of mid-1960s cynical spy mellers, Scorpio might have been an acceptable action programmer if its narrative were clearer, its dialog less ‘cultured’ and its visuals more straightforward.
Pic opens with the assassination of an Arab government official, but his identity and relationship to the protagonists remain puzzlements beyond the film’s conclusion. Even more irritating is nearly total confusion about other characters’ occupations or moral positions.
Ultimately, pic settles down into the usual is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-double-agent gimmick, with CIA-blackmailed Alain Delon pursuing supposed Soviet defector Burt Lancaster from Washington to Europe. While ducking his would-be assassin, Lancaster takes refuge in the Viennese home of Paul Scofield, a Russian agent.