The Formula

Watch The Formula

"Big Oil. Big Money. Big Mystery. Everyone’s out to make a killing."
  • R
  • 1980
  • 1 hr 57 min
  • 5.6  (2,809)

The Formula, released in 1980, is an intense geopolitical thriller directed by John G. Avildsen and features a star-studded cast including George C. Scott, Marlon Brando, and Marthe Keller. The movie is set in the early 1980s, against the backdrop of the OPEC oil crisis wherein major oil exporting countries formed a cartel, resulting in skyrocketing oil prices and economic chaos across the world. Against this turbulent backdrop, The Formula follows the story of two detectives, LAPD Lieutenant Barney Caine (George C. Scott) and German Federal Police Officer, Captain Muller (Marthe Keller), who are tasked with investigating the mysterious murders of two former oil company executives - one in Los Angeles and the other in Hamburg, Germany.

Caine and Muller gradually unravel a complex plot involving a secret formula that can turn coal into oil. They find evidence indicating that the murdered executives were somehow involved in a conspiracy to suppress and control the formula. As they dig deeper into the case, they discover that there are powerful people, including oil company executives and government officials, who will stop at nothing to keep the formula a secret and maintain their power and wealth.

Their investigation leads them to the enigmatic and ruthless Adam Steiffel (Marlon Brando), a multi-billionaire owner of one of the largest oil companies in the world. Steiffel's involvement in the conspiracy becomes increasingly clear as Caine and Muller get closer to uncovering the truth behind the murders.

As they work against time to solve the case, Caine and Muller begin to realize the full extent of the international conspiracy and the danger they are in. They find themselves in a race against time to reveal the truth and stop those who will do anything to keep the formula a secret.

The Formula is a taut and suspenseful thriller, with a fast-paced plot that keeps the audience engaged till the very end. The movie serves as a potent reminder of the power dynamics at play in the oil industry, and how the quest for power and profit can lead to corruption and manipulation.

The performances of the three lead actors in The Formula are impressive, with Scott delivering a powerful performance as the jaded and cynical detective, Caine. Brando, as always, brings a quiet intensity to his role as the enigmatic Adam Steiffel, conveying a sense of barely-contained power and menace. Keller, as Captain Muller, is a strong and determined character, holding her own against the men around her.

Overall, The Formula is a well-crafted thriller that explores the intersection of power, wealth, and conspiracy in the world of big oil. The movie may have been released over four decades ago, but its themes and message remain as relevant as ever, reminding us that the quest for power and greed can have far-reaching consequences.

The Formula is a 1980 thriller with a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.6.

The Formula
Where to Watch The Formula
The Formula is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Formula for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 57 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.6  (2,809)