Sometimes it's all about the competition. If you have read The Company, you probably agree that it is a wonderful book. To say that a book that is almost 900 pages long ends too soon is saying a lot. But there is a lot good to say about The Company. And a lot in the 900 page book that is not going to make it to the screen in four and a half hours of run time.
So, if you compare the mini-series to the book, this probably gets three stars, notably for a few key changes to the plot, several omissions due to run time limits, and the problem of portraying characters who age by 40 years visually. (Yes, the music is annoying in the first episode, but it isn't that bad.)
However, if you compare to most other mini-series, this is close to five stars. After all, it starts off with a tremendous plot line and story. It does a great job of shooting realistically in foreign locales (Berlin and Budapest are done really well). And Molina and Keaton do a superb job with their characters. Keaton in particular goes to a whole new level in his portrayal of James Jesus Angelton, the real-life head of counter-intelligence in the CIA. The performances of these two actors alone make this DVD worth watching.
Sadly, Chris O'Donnell playing the main character is not up to what his two peers deliver. He just a great job as the 'Hail, fellow, well met!' Yalie, but just does not seem to ever grow or learn as he gets older. Having watched first hand the US betray their promises to the Hungarian freedom fighters in their 1956 revolt, he seems utterly surprised (first hand again) 5 years later that the US leadership does it again to the Cuban rebels on the Bay of Pigs. Some of this is the fault of the script writer, who otherwise has done a good job, but some of it is O'Donnell himself. I completely forgot that Keaton once played Batman in a movie. I was reminded often that O'Donnell played Robin. Keaton's growth as an actor over almost 30 years is remarkable. O'Donnell has stuck to what he does. Nothing wrong with that, but it means he is miscast.
But, if you like mini-series, or want to learn about the CIA and can't face up to 900 pages, The Company is recommended strongly. And if you really like the book and would like to see it visualized for you, it is a real treat.