The Exception is a diverting and occasionally exciting film, though it is rarely disturbing or thought-provoking in ways the material might require.
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David Leveaux's film cannily incorporates elements of spycraft and sheer trash into a familiar formula.
Whatever nuance existed in the original novel, whatever detail regarding the complicated emotional existence of actual human beings, is reduced here to not-quite-suspenseful-enough plot points and an impossible forbidden romance that makes almost no sense.
The superb English stage director David Leveaux keeps the pacing taut while creating space for his actors to work their magic.
The film never quite achieves the level of fevered hurry for which it aims—sometimes due to its often trite, on-the-nose dialogue and sometimes to the stilted delivery of said dialogue.
The Exception is merely a serviceable drama taking us on a competent if predictable journey.
"Exception" breaks no new ground but it is a solidly done and always engrossing piece of alternate history, mixing real people and events with fictional ones.
In other words, it’s hopeless tosh — but expertly done hopeless tosh.
Whenever Plummer is onscreen, The Exception is scintillating entertainment. Unfortunately, it gets bogged down.
For Plummer’s plum of a performance alone, you might want to make an exception for The Exception.