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Spy Game
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  • hey what the hell tony scott????
    I think Tony Scott is secretly a woman and you can tell whenever it's his time of the month because it's his time of the month when his movies suck. That's the only thing that would explain how he can make movies so amazingly good as The Last Boy Scout, Top Gun and especially Crimson Tide, and then turn around and make movies as horrifically bad as this and True Romance....more info
  • Spy Game
    Took a little longer than expected, but not by much, it was in good condition....more info
  • Quite a thriller...more of an expose on the dirty tricks of CIA operatives...
    It is refreshing to watch an older Robert Redford pitting his acting skills against a younger Brad Pitt in this spy thriller movie. Both of them acted very well despite the sketchy plot.

    To me, the storyline is pretty straight-forward: A retiring CIA operative, Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) learned that his protege, Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), had been arrested in China as a result of a botched rescue attempt of his girl-friend. He was due to be executed shortly. Because of vested interests, CIA refused to mount a rescue. Out of friendship, Muir engineered a successful but unauthorised rescue.

    The entire movie is beautifully choreographed through black & white flash-backs & pure dialogue, during which Muir recalled his personal encounter & close friendship with his protege. That relationsip spanned across a timeline of about twenty years, from the Vietnam War in the 70's, to the end of the cold war in Berlin during the 80's & then to the mean streets of Beirut in the 90's.

    The movie moves on to show how Muir had taught Bishop all the skills (or dirty tricks?) of to case a restaurant, fix a radio, be callous, look at the big stay sell out people if that's of kill.

    There is no typical high-octane action sequences in this spy thriller movie, except for a heart-pounding escape scene in a China prison.

    Throughout the movie, one can see how Muir had to use his wits & all the skills (or dirty tricks?) he had learned while working for the CIA to out-smart the CIA's top echelon as well as his fellow CIA operatives to mount a personally-financed rescue mission.

    I really enjoyed watching his brilliant machinations as he moved from scene to scene in the movie. I just loved the part where he juxtaposed CIA satellite images to fool his bosses. He even forged the signature of the CIA Director. At the end of it, all of them apparently did not have the slightest clue as to what was happening & had happened.

    On the whole, I have enjoyed watching this spy thriller. It is also comforting to know that an accomplished Singaporean actor, Adrian Pang, had a small role in the movie. He played a medic during the botched rescue attempt.
    ...more info
  • I REALLY liked it
    I know some people find it just average or a mildly entertaining flick but for some reason it is one of my top 5 films. Honestly, I couldn't really tell you why I like this film so much. Maybe because of all the locations and the events that occur in them? Maybe it's because I like the acting? Honestly, I have no idea. For some reason I could watch this film every week and I would enjoy it all the more. If you didn't know, the soundtrack is worth every penny....more info
  • Well-done, fast-paced spy thriller with an outstanding cast.
    I am not a great action movie fan - but I will watch almost anything associated with Robert Redford, whose "Three Days of the Condor" and "All the President's Men" are among my all-time favorites; as is "A River Runs Through It," his first collaboration with Brad Pitt. So, I figured, with these two in co-starring roles I couldn't really go wrong with "Spy Game"; and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

    Told from a 1991 perspective - two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the CIA changed from an agency run by operatives with field experience to one run by "suits" - "Spy Game" flashes back to the cold war, when American politics' overriding goal was to outmaneuver the Russian-controlled communist block; although Middle Eastern politics eventually did add more complexity. (Shot before, but released after September 11, 2001, as director Tony Scott and producers Douglas Wick and Marc Abraham note on the DVD's commentary tracks, the WTC attack had some effect on the editing process). The story begins with CIA operative Tom Bishop (Pitt)'s capture during an unauthorized rescue attempt in a Chinese prison, resulting in his former supervisor Nathan Muir (Redford)'s summons, on his last day in office, to a meeting of the agency's top brass, for an account of their operations between 1975 (their first meeting in Vietnam) and 1985 (their last operation in Beirut). However, already tipped off to Bishop's capture by an old confidant in the U.S. embassy in Hong Kong, as Muir gives his report his suspicion is quickly confirmed that his information won't be used to save Bishop but to construe a reason to let the Chinese execute him. So it is left to Muir, several thousand miles away, to come to his former protege's aid; and in so doing, break all his rules of survival: Put away some money to retire in a warm spot, never touch that money for anyone, never risk your life or career for an outsider, and if an agent goes "off the reservation" (engages in an unauthorized operation), don't go after him trying to pull him out.

    Of course, most of this has been done before; in the aforementioned Redford movies, countless other celluloid tales of the past 50 years and the novels of writers who have built entire careers on this kind of material, from John le Carre to Tom Clancy and Frederick Forsyth. But "Spy Game" was directed by Tony Scott, who, like his brother Ridley, has already left his mark on the genre (see "Enemy of the State" and "Crimson Tide") and, with his arts and advertising background, understands that action movies are about visuals at least as much as about plot and character development: weak editing and camerawork will sink an action thriller as assuredly as weak acting. And Scott's direction is spot-on, in his choice of camera angles, movement and even coloring (providing every chapter with a unique color scheme), as well as his editing, so fast-paced that there are several details you only pick up on in your second or third viewing. Even in the largely static scenes in the CIA conference room, thanks to numerous small tricks, great dialogue and a cast of outstanding actors - including Stephen Dillane as Muir's intra-agency opponent Harker and Larry Bryggman as CIA vice-director Folger - Scott never loses the viewer's interest.

    I do have a few issues with "Spy Game" - leaving aside that, as in most spy flicks, there are some sequences where I have to suspend just a bit too much of my disbelief (like the East Berlin sequences of the operation used to set up American mole Anne Cathcart [Charlotte Rampling] and parts of Muir's rescue operation for Bishop), I think it is a pity that a director/producer team otherwise so focused on authenticity didn't realize how many people would remember Robert Redford's looks in films like the above-mentioned ones, i.e. from the mid-1970s, coinciding with this movie's Vietnam and Berlin episodes; for although Redford has definitely gained in class and authority with his growing number of facial lines, which well behoove Tom Bishop's mentor, arguably there should have been at least some visible age difference between Muir's 1975 and 1991 looks. And just as an aside, from a native Berliner: Guys, much as I applaud your choice to substitute nightly Budapest streets for those of cold-war East Berlin, you shouldn't also have filmed the rooftop scene there, because neither the city's overall look nor its topography pans out to those who actually knew Berlin then. (Not to mention the "vopos"' obvious Hungarian accents and a few other details I won't go into here.)

    But overall this movie is certainly a cut above the rest of its class, due to great directorial work as much as that of Redford, Pitt and Catherine McCormack as Elizabeth Hadley, the woman who finally comes between them in Beirut: Redford as the inscrutable, controlling master spy - whose past is, unlike in the original screenplay, kept suitably ambiguous -, Pitt as the young gun, aptly codenamed "Boy Scout," who is not above exploiting "assets" for an operation's sake but does fall in love with the wrong woman at last, and McCormack as the tough, no-frills activist whose feelings for Bishop ultimately endanger not only him but also herself. - Last but not least, Harry Gregson-Williams's soundtrack deserves special mention: With an excellent blend of classic rock tunes (Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" and Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms" ... where are these on the soundtrack CD???) and a score alternating between middle eastern and Asian melodies, a boy soprano (Bishop & Hadley's love theme) and techno grooves, it is always in tune with the action and provides a perfect frame for the movie's voyage from Langley to Vietnam, Berlin, Beirut and China. This may not be one of film history's all-time greatest moments - but it is a well-crafted thriller and definitely worth watching if you're looking for some action.

    Also recommended:
    Three Days of the Condor
    Sneakers (Collector's Edition)
    The Recruit
    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    Smiley's People
    The Day of the Jackal
    The Fist of God
    Shibumi: A Novel
    A River Runs Through It (Deluxe Edition)...more info
  • Classic Redford
    The action centers around a CIA spy drama in the truest sense of the word. In a half-narrative half flashback mix, Redford explains the circumstances leading up to the capture of Pitt in communist China. The dialog is intellegent, the scenes move quickly, and the back-and-forth of the story is put together in such a way to constantly leave you wondering, "Then what happened?", without leaving you clueless.

    The building of anticipation right up to the end explains why the viewer will be so quickly drawn in. (Only the rare historian will be dissapointed by a lack of unnecassary historical specifics -- These scenes are full without them). Credit also goes to the director for drawing out the empathy for the leads from the audience as well.

    For the story, its as classic as Redford himself.
    Robert Redford plays a role that can truly take you back to his early work, such as a warden in "Brubaker", with a star performance as a CIA operative fighting time as he approaches retirement. Redfords character ultimately has to re-evaluate a principle he had based his entire life and career on.

    Pitt also puts forth an outstanding performance, however his character is primarily a tool for the development of Redford's.

    Enjoy....more info
  • Hell of an ad for the Boy Scouts.
    I must admit, Tony Scott is one of the greatest action directors the film world has to offer. He not only has the ability to push his actors, but also create these amazing visuals that transport us deep into the setting of the film. He has mastered the cinematography of nearly every picture he has done, giving us these beautiful shots of the world that we may never see in our lifetime. Several of his films enhance my DVD collection like Crimson Tide and True Romance, but sadly Spy Game will not. While Scott does wonders with the actors, scenes, and camera angles, it is the story that is ultimately flaws this film. The lack of coherence, consistency, and structure take this Tony Scott film and transform it into just your average Hollywood spy film. It had the potential to reach new levels, and there were several scenes that I loved, but I just couldn't believe the story. Let me explain.

    My biggest issue with this film was the lack of aging from our two main characters. This film spans a timeframe of about sixteen years, and throughout the course of that time neither Pitt nor Redford age. Director Scott chose not to use CGI or younger actors for the parts when they were in Vietnam, so as the time progressed in the film, our main actors did not. This was a huge hurdle to overcome since I wanted to enjoy this film. I did not see the mission where the discovered the fountain of youth, so I can only assume that this was some bad judgment on Scott's part. Redford and Pitt should have aged more than what they did in this film allowing us to see the emotion and sheer force behind their eyes.

    Outside of this point it was your average Hollywood action film. Large explosions and violence countered with a sneaky Sneakers-esque style subplot overshadowed the plot. Pitt was nothing more than the muscle of the operation, and Scott gave us nothing to build more upon his character. I fault the writer of this film. I believe that the homework was done correctly, just not structured correctly. Perhaps it was just me, but I had trouble following some of the missions. I realize they were necessary, and possibly not rocket science, but the scene with Charlotte Rampling made no sense. Maybe I missed a part that was crucial in some way, but overall it just seemed like there was more jumping and fighting than actual plot. I felt as if the love interest was randomly placed through the film. I realize that Pitt was not one to follow simple commands, but I felt early on in this film that he would have the ability to walk away from a woman if needed. Spy Game suddenly went from smart espionage film to "master has to fix newbie's mistake". This felt strange to me because throughout the film Redford continued to speak about having the upper hand, and not straying from the point. Yet, when Redford was faced to save his friend, he did just that. Was he learning from his pupil? If so, it was not very well spelled out and a very weak point.

    Outside of the story, director Tony Scott gives yet another beautiful film. The cinematography is outstanding. I loved the way that he kept us, the audience, in suspense as to what time it was and how much time they had to save Pitt's character. The black and white flashes followed by the time were inventive and it seemed to work. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Scott controlled this film and it was a pleasure to see that. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the master of the action genre and that more scripts should be coming his way. I hope they are more inventive than this outing and have at least a bit more meat on their bones.

    Overall, I thought this was an average film. I am disappointed because there are better than average films that Tony Scott has released, I am ashamed to ask why this film was not one of them. Pitt was solely used for the purpose of his strength (and to capture the attention of a younger female audience) while Redford was used mainly for his dashing good looks (and to capture the attention of the older female audience). Once you realize this point than this film will fall into place. I don't think it deserves more than one viewing, but the cinematography alone was powerful enough to watch once.

    Grade: *** out of *****...more info
  • Solid, gritty espionage.
    Despite numerous flaws, Spy Game is a thrilling picture. It also happens to be the most realistic (realistic being a relative term... this is still a Hollywood movie) portrayal of espionage to be put on film; this as close to the real deal as Hollywood has ever gotten, folks.

    The screenplay, written by Michael Frost Beckner and David Arata, is a solid effort, if somewhat forgettable. It unfortunately suffers from a few cliches throughout (the aging, retiring mentor syndrome, a melodramatic love affair) but makes up for its off-beat moments with occasionally razor-sharp dialogue and moments of genuine tension. Tony Scott directs, showing remarkable restraint in his usual pension for ultra-flashy camera techniques. Spy Game still has its fair share of camera kinetics, and Scott directs the action scenes with the high-movement and quick editing he's known for. Harry Gregson-Williams provides the film's both intense and subtle score, an electro-symphony mix with flourishes of choral work that's as effective and functional as the film.

    Acting wise, Robert Redford plays the same role he's played many times before, and honestly, seems to be almost neutral the whole picture. While utterly convincing, he hardly pushes himself here. No, this is more of a vehicle for Brad Pitt and his rising talent, and while Pitt does well, it is the supporting cast that carries the film.

    Spy Game will never win any awards. Still, the film deserves more attention than it's gotten, and is definitely worth a look, and espionage fans should definitely make an effort to see the film. It's a well-made, well-acted picture with some real suspense and tension. ...more info
    Tony Scott's intricately plotted spy drama ironically places two of our blond matinee idols in jeopardy. A leathery-faced Robert Redford with the fresh blossom of youth in Brad Pitt. Both actors do well in their roles, with Redford coming out on top as his role demands a little more. Scott is good in keeping the pace quick even though there are several moments that you wonder if he can keep it up. Pitt plays a CIA operative captured on a botched mission and scheduled to be executed by the Chinese. Of course, the CIA will allow this because Pitt was on a rogue unauthorized mission, and they don't want to ruin their trade relationship with China. Redford does everything he can in a 24 hour period to ensure Pitt's safety.
    The movie has a fine supporting cast including Marie-Jean Baptiste as Redford's secretary; Larry Bryggman (soap opera's AS THE WORLD TURNS); Catherine McCormack as Pitt's love interest, and Stephen Dillane as Harker, the self-assured, egotistical fellow agent.

    David Hemmings and Charlotte Rampling have cameos.
    All in all, entertaining, if a little hard to follow sometimes....more info

  • Classic
    This is a great thriller and keeps you engaged in nonstop excitement. Robert Redford at his best....more info
  • playing for keeps
    "It's Muir's last day before retiring (clich¨¦ alert!)" says Amazon review. Lol. That is true. Why they gotta do that? SPY GAME is a good movie though. It's got good acting, was directed well, tells a good story and I always appreciate seeing lots of Europe in a movie. It doesn't paint dark enough a picture of the CIA, an organization that has done enough harm in the world that socially responsible filmmakers should never miss the opportunity to really let those creeps have it, imo. But of course sending a message is not even close to being the whole point of telling a story or making a movie. I'd say, just don't make 'em look good. And SPY GAME does sort of come close, what with none other than Brad Pitt and Robert Redford together on screen. Two of Hollywood's best looking and most charismatic actors. They're cool together. Basically as a young soldier Pitt is recruited by Redford to the Company. They do some work over the years (the hot spots: eastern europe, the middle east)and eventually Pitt becomes disillusioned with spy games and all the shenanigans and murder. Pitt falls in love with a woman. Pitt and Redford go their seperate ways, but before they do Redford has made clear his belief that one should never stick their neck out. Pitt then gets caught by Chinese authorities trying to save his woman. I'll leave the rest for you to enjoy. I recommend SPY GAME...more info
  • excellent movie
    Redford wow, Pitt wow, picuture a big wow the plot very twiisty and a pleasure ro watch. ...more info
  • A Taut, Suspenseful Thriller!
    Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) is finally ready to retire. He has spent his life working for the CIA as a top-secret spy and has trained many of the young spies currently working for the CIA. He has never let any of them get to him - until Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt). Nathan and Tom parted on less than amicable terms, but when Nathan hears that Tom has been captured in China and is scheduled to be executed the next day for espionage, he knows he has to do something. Nathan manages to maneuver himself into the group investigating Tom's capture and Nathan discovers that Tom was not on a CIA mission when he was captured - he went rogue. While the committee pumps Nathan for information regarding Tom and their relationship, Nathan realizes that the CIA has no intention of claiming Tom and are planning on sacrificing him for a better relationship with China. Nathan strings the committee on as long as he can to try and decide what he can do to help Tom because he knows exactly why Tom was in China - and Nathan is the one who gave her to them...

    Spy Game was a very suspenseful film that caught my attention from the first moment and didn't let go. I thought that Robert Redford's portrayal of Nathan Muir was riveting and quite interesting in terms of his CIA involvement. Brad Pitt was also very able in his role as Tom Bishop, a young spy struggling to maintain his distance from those people that he was spying on. The supporting cast was also very good and they really fit into the parts well. Director Tony Scott did a wonderful job in using flashbacks to show Nathan and Tom's relationship all the way from their beginnings in Vietnam to their falling out in the Near East. Many directors who use flashbacks just end up disrupting the film and you feel like they don't really fit, but every flashback was used to illustrate a character trait in both Nathan and Tom so that, by the end, you knew exactly what motivated both characters and why they were doing what they did. I also really liked the short time frame that the movie dealt with - one day! I was really on pins and needles by the end to see what, if anything, was going to happen. If you are looking for a good spy film, or just like Robert Redford or Brad Pitt, this is well worth your time to check out!...more info

  • A Stupid Movie
    A stupid movie! Only a Joke! Never buy it!...more info
  • What's NOT to like?
    Not that anyone else hasn't already said this: but good looking guys, international spies and a thriller plot - what beats that? i could watch this movie over and over and not get bored. Love it!...more info
  • Awful
    Yet another movie in which Robert Redford gets to reprise his role as an irritating know-all. He has played pretty much the same character for the last ten years, and this time the phoney sagacity emerges though the persona of a CIA commander handing out lines like 'don't ever question my orders again', 'you just lost ten seconds', and (yes) 'you're ten minutes late' to his fawning understrapper Brad Pitt. Yawn. Actually wasn't that last line followed by another admonitory clich? seconds later? Oh yes: 'Don't let it happen again.' By the way, this movie *is* marketed as a thriller.

    How behind the times is a film which still tries to portray the embattled North Vietnamese as an enemy requiring murderous force to extirpate? How confused is a movie in which Redford refers in one moment to the 'seventeen sects' in Lebanon and thereafter has to use the cumbersomely neutral locution of 'the Lebanese militia' to refer to the sect the US had sided with? How cliched is a movie which intercuts between a tuxedoed reception at an embassy and a gritty car-chase behind the iron curtain? Plus the enemy du jour is - surprise, surprise - the Chinese.

    The moviemakers' meticulous research and attention to detail is evdient throughout: Redford repeatedly pronounces Sheik as 'chic'; a scene opens with a shot of the Szabads?g bridge in Budapest while the subtitle reads 'Berlin'; and of course stealing top-secret documents at Langley is simply a matter of distracting the secretary, swiping them off his desk and hiding them under your jacket.

    But I suppose you could just watch it for the garbled morals, the inapposite techno/dance soundtrack and director Tony Scott's frenetic swoop-then-freezeframe camerawork......more info

  • Neat Twist on Spy Movies
    This was a pretty typical spy movie, fast-moving, double-agents, all that stuff. However, most of the real-time action in the movie takes place in an office. I found this part of the movie to be interesting and taut, and it was more than a little refreshing for the genre. Robert Redford plays a great smart-[expletive deleted], and I enjoyed the office scenes a lot. The flashbacks were good at times, but tended toward the saccharine. Can't say I'm thrilled with the ending, either, but it wasn't a complete cheat.

    If too many car chases are giving you a headache, this low-key spy flick might be something you're into. ...more info