Sunday, 17 October 2010


“Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.” - Hunter Thompson

Last weekend we saw the 2001 Tony Scott movie “Spy Game”, starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. As the title intimates this is a spy thriller all about CIA agent Nathan Muir (played by an ageing Redford) who is about to go to work for his last day before his retirement. Unfortunately for him, he receives a desperate phone call informing him that his protégé Tom Bishop (played by a very young Pitt, comparatively speaking) is in a Chinese prison awaiting execution for espionage. It quickly becomes apparent, that the CIA does not want to “meddle” in this particular “embarrassing” situation as it could damage sensitive trade deals. Muir knows all about the Machiavellian machinations of the CIA and uses all of his skill, experience, knowledge and inside information to try to save Bishop’s life. In the process, he recalls their relationship and developing friendship over the years, which will not allow him to abandon Bishop to his fate.

This is an archetypal “dick-flick” with lots of action, male bonding, war, spies, dirty business involving politics, espionage, double-crossing, capitalism, communism, double standards, terrorism, counterterrorism, revolution, and all of the other things that make our modern times so wonderful to live in… I like a good spy thriller as much as the next guy, however, this one left me a little bit flat. Maybe I expected a lot more and with such high expectations for an A-grade film I was disappointed that it was only a B-Grade one.

Redford does a good enough job, but at times he looks bored with the whole thing and one thinks that, yes, he would rather be in the Bahamas working away at his retirement. Pitt was at one time hailed as the “New Redford” and I certainly saw the resemblance. He could have easily played Redford’ son. He was the fresh-faced young, enthusiastic actor that seemed to outdo the older one. He played with verve and definitely wanted to be on the set doing the movie, the Bahamas could wait.

The direction was slick enough and the flashbacks were done well, the messy storyline was handled well and the “love story” of sorts that threatened the friendship of the two men was portrayed with restraint as befitted the genre of the film. Scott is experienced enough in this type of movie: “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” (2007); “Déja Vu” (2006); “Enemy of the State” (1996) “Crimson Tide” (1993), etc, etc. As one would expect with such credentials, the production was good and the standards high. However, something was lacking – je ne sais quoi!

As far as recommending the film goes, yes I would recommend it as a standard one of its type and most men I think would enjoy it. We watched it with friends and the two women weren’t particularly taken with it, they often chatted between themselves during the film and wouldn’t be drawn by it. As I said, I expected more than I got, but I imagine if my expectations were lower at the outset, I may have enjoyed it more. The verdict? 3.5 out of 5


  1. I really liked this movie Nic, but I must admit I am a fan of both Robert and Brad!!!!! Probably spent most of the time looking at them rather than the explosions!!!!

  2. I think I'll avoid this one, thanks for the warning, Nicholas!