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Spy Game

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Spy Game

Starring: Robert Redford, Brad Pitt
Director: Tony Scott
Rated: R
RunTime: 126 Minutes
Release Date: November 2001
Genres: Action, Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane, Omid Djalili, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

It doesn't add up. The movie-makers take two generations of hunky box-office stars - Robert Redford and Brad Pitt - and put them in an espionage thriller and it winds up looking like an episode of "The Agency." Of course, the fact that the murky plot was co-scripted by Michael Frost Beckner, who writes the TV series, should have been the tip-off. Redford plays Nathan Muir who is set to retire after 30 years at the CIA when he learns that his "Boy Scout" protégé, Tom Bishop - that's Pitt - has been captured in China. Realizing that The Agency brass will disown any connection to Bishop, Muir concocts his own devious, elaborate, long-distance plan for a rescue. But not before repeated flashbacks, showing us how he recruited Bishop in Vietnam in 1975 and subsequently trained him in West Berlin and Beirut in the nasty, ruthless intricacies of the spy game. Sipping aged Scotch, the maverick Muir obviously cares more about saving his operative than preserving a new USA/China trade agreement. With "Top Gun," "Crimson Tide" and "Enemy of the State" to his credit, director Tony Scott knows how to keep the pace fast in an action-adventure. Problem is: he doesn't give us any emotional connection to the two men. That, plus the inherent moral ambiguity, means we don't make an emotional investment in the outcome. Noting, "I'm old school," Redford is convincingly evasive as he's grilled by CIA bureaucrats, but Pitt's role is so vague and underwritten as to make him a cipher. Catherine McCormack surfaces briefly as a British aid worker with compromised loyalty. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Spy Games" is a frenetic but ultimately floundering 5. It's shamelessly slick but shallow. Rent "Three Days of the Condor" (1975) to see Redford play a far more interesting CIA analyst.

Copyright © 2001 Susan Granger

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