Spy Game (2001)

You can rely on Robert Redford and Brad Pitt for polished performances and action director Tony Scott (Crimson Tide, Enemy Of The State, True Romance, Top Gun) will always keep the pace of a movie galloping along, but will the mix necessary produce a quality movie?

Spy Game is essentially about the foibles of humanity. Even seasoned hard nosed spies can have softer moments you know.

Nathan Muir (Redford) is on his last day as a spy with the CIA when his protégéé Tom Bishop (Pitt) gets nabbed on an unauthorised mission trying to break someone out of a Chinese Prison. Bishop is going to be executed in 24 hours unless Muir can do something.

Muir realises that the CIA is going to dump Bishop for the sake of impending trade talks. We are treated to a series of extended flashbacks to Vietnam, Berlin and Beirut which chronicle Muir and Bishop’s relationship.

Spy Game is mostly a boys own story with lots of explosions showing smart men outwitting the opposition. As Muir teaches Bishop his tradecraft we’re introduced to how spies are taught to case a restaurant, fix a radio, vomit on demand.

We’re told how they are trained to be callous, to look at the big picture, to stay remote, to sell out people if that’s of use. They’re taught how to kill.

And we’re shown again and again the CIA assassinating people, causing civil unrest, authorising explosions, arranging murders. The film makes no apologies for this but implies that for the good of the free world, well someone has to do it. Spy Game certainly surfs sweetly on American patriotism.

Spy Game is predictably interesting though mainly because of Robert Redford who still has that million dollar smile and Brad Pitt who mixes boyish charm with a slight degree of angst.

Tony Scott’s film making style however really needs to slow down. Relentless pace and swooping cameras are eventually tiring and they don’t give time to contemplate. Still, Spy Game is slick and informative. I’m damn glad I don’t live in a war zone.

Review by Steve-176

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