Frank Jones (Michael Caine) has a son (Nigel Havers) who works in a top secret British intelligence agency. Frank has had experience in that line, but now has retired to a quiet and safe life. His son tells him that strange things are happening, and he's planning on leaving and marrying an older woman he's fallen in love with. He says a Soviet mole was found, that security is all over the place encouraging people to rat on each other. The higher ups seem convinced that if they don't do something, their American friends in the CIA will stop working with them.
Frank isn't thrilled over the marriage plans, and he tells his son that it's unlikely anything off key can be happening in the agency. It's obvious that Jones loves his son deeply and wants his son to be happy in whatever his son chooses for himself. A few days later his son is dead, an apparent suicide. Jones cannot believe his son killed himself, and decides to use his old skills to find out what happened. The rest of the movie digs into an examination of the British establishment which is disturbing and ugly. There are strong echoes of the Antony Blunt case and the Cambridge spies. Frank Jones finds men who easily consider others expendable if their ideas of class and priviledge are endangered. He accuses one of being willing to see men die so long as he can continue to have tea with the Queen.
Caine does a wonderful job of underplaying. His love for his son, his reluctance to leave the safe shell he has made for himself, his strength in searching for answers, his ruthlessness when he gets close to the truth, are all played quietly...which makes things even more effective.
The movie's ending is, for me, not quite as satisfying as it could be, but it's likely that the good guy wins and the bad guys suffer.
Among the bad guys is James Fox, a first-rate actor who for some time has seemed to specialize in playing condescending aristos. It's hard to remember him as the blond, young "tennis, anyone?" chap in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
The DVD transfer is okay.