When an ambitious deputy director frames the head of the CIA in a drug smuggling operation gone wrong, the director leaks info that a star witness will be coming into town, and sends his right hand man to the airport to make contact. The so called witness is a dupe picked at random based on a signal made up on the fly.
That man is Richard Drew, concert violinist and title character. When the deputy director takes the bait, coming to more and more paranoid conclusions based on completely innocent aspects of his life, Drew is dragged into the deadly spy battle, complete with Femme Fatale, wiretaps, tailing agents and multiple assassinations.
Released in 1985, this movie is an American remake of the 1972 French movie The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe, where comedian Pierre Richard played the role later given to Hanks. It plays with many of the spy thriller tropes, and also features a rare credited appearance by Carrie Fisher.
- Black and Grey Morality: The Deputy sees no problem with committing murder and causing international incidents to secure a promotion. Meanwhile, the Director has no issues with throwing an innocent man under a bus to save his own skin. The victor in the end is the Director's underling Brown, who is significantly more morally White than either of them, and ends up director of the CIA in the previous Director's place
- Mistaken for CIA Deep Cover Agent: Drew's gig as a traveling musician has taken him around the world, including several Communist nations, which leads the Deputy to conclude music is just his cover job.
- Cassandra Truth: "There are three dead men in your apartment"
- Cold War: Downplayed -there's not a single Russian agent anywhere in the film.
- Deep Cover Agent: What Drew is mistaken for.
- Fanservice: Carrie Fisher turns in the gold metal bikini for leopard print underwear.
- Feed the Mole: The Director's house is wired for sound. Which is why he has all important conversations out on his lawn with the sprinklers running, and stands directly in front of the bugs when he want to be sure they hear what he wants them to hear.
- Femme Fatale: Used by the Deputy to get close to Drew. Played arrow straight.
- Foreign Remake: Of the French film Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire (''The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe"). Biggest difference between the original and the remake: in the original the hero never realizes what's going on!
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The final chase scene ends with the Deputy bursting into the room after Drew, gun drawn. The room contains the Senate sub-committee, which he sweeps with his muzzle, and the Femme Fatale, who was in on the original frame-up and willing to testify in order to save the hero.
- Hollywood Silencer: Used by the competing teams of agents when they meet each other in Drew's apartment.
- Instant Sedation: It takes multiple shots in the backside to put Drew out after a wiretapping team nearly gets caught in his apartment, with Drew becoming slightly delusional before finally dropping. The agents interpret this as a sign of nigh-inhuman endurance, further reinforcing their belief that he is a highly trained agent.
- Noodle Incident: While some sound is heard, the exact mechanics of playing "Tarzan" are not laid out or shown on camera.
- Person with the Clothing
- Practical Joke: Drew's friend stole one shoe out of each of his pairs before his flight to DC, resulting in his mismatched footwear.
- Resignations Not Accepted: Used toward the Femme Fatale, who is willing to betray her employer. Subverted, in that she turns states evidence in exchange for clemency at the end, getting out of the game in the process.
- Spy Versus Spy: The internal politics of the CIA drive the entire plot.
- Take a Level in Badass: By the end, Drew has gone from a mild mannered musician to charging an oncoming car with his bike, using a wooden plank as a lance.
- Title Drop: When the Director's right hand man picks him out of the crowd at the airport.
- The Fool: Drew doesn't even know what is going on until the final quarter of the movie, and it is only through dumb luck that he avoids getting shot, coming across a multiple murder in his own apartment, or getting all his teeth pulled in a vain search for microfilm.
- Those Two Guys/Those Two Bad Guys: Both the Director and Deputy employ a pair of agents for stakeouts and wetwork.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: James Belushi is married to Carrie Fisher who is cheating on him with the main character.