Michel D. (michelann) from WALNUT GROVE, MO Reviewed on 6/28/2014...
Entertaining fast paced thriller with the best in acting talent (Robert Redford and Brad Pitt) that was directed by the best in the business Tony Scott. What more can you ask for in a movie? Spy game is an evenings entertainment in a box!
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Solid performances by Redford and Pitt.
shankar_k | Indianapolis, IN United States | 11/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Spy game' is a simple spy story with terrific performances by its lead actors - Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. Pitt plays CIA agent Tom Bishop, who is found, hired and trained by Nathan, played by Robert Redford. Tom Bishop's personal mission in China goes haywire and he is taken captive by the Chinese. And then it is all upto Redford to rescue him. How Redford does it is the rest of the plot, which alternates between the present and the past, as narrated by Redford.Redford plays Nathan effortlessly, with charm and ease. He leaves most of the action sequences to the younger actor and that is a wise thing, considering his age. Yet again, Pitt proves that he has the acting talent to go with his looks. The scenes where Pitt and Redford appear together are nicely written and acted. The only negative points in the film are the background music, which is jarring at times, and the slightly dragging middle part, but it does build up the tempo for the finale. These defects are more than compensated by Redford and Pitt and this is one film that is worth watching."
An extrordinary chess match
Pendleton the 3rd | Los Angeles | 04/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw this film in theatres, I thoroughly enjoyed it however was a bit dissapointed. I realized later that my discontent did not stem from the movie but the way it was marketed. In trailers, they portrayed the movie as a straight up action film in the tradition of "enemy of the state." This being said, the movie did not live up to THAT expectation.When I realized this and watched the movie for the second time on DVD, I saw this film for what it really was...A superb chess match between Redfords character and the CIA bureacracy. Everything else is truly secondary. Though exciting and dramatic, the storys (portrayed as flashbacks in the film) that Redfords character shares with the CIA taskforce, is really a strategy he is using to "win the game...a game which you dont want to lose"Again, these flashbacks are insightful and sometimes thrilling, but are not meant to be represented as elements for an action film. It is a thinking mans movie for someone who likes there intelligence films to be intelligent. Hence the title Spy Game. Remember, some games are not won by brute physical force but with brains and strategic thinking instead."
Play this Game!
Daniel V. Reilly | Upstate New York, United States | 11/25/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Set in 1991, Spy Game revolves around a grizzled veteran CIA operative (played by Robert Redford), and his protege, Tom Bishop (played by Brad Pitt). The story unfolds in flashbacks, as Bishop has been captured by the Chinese government during a botched prison breakout. Bishop's mentor, Muir, is tidying up his affairs as he prepares to retire, but is forced to intercede with the CIA brass as they try to avoid an international incident by painting Bishop as a rogue agent; they hope that by leaving Bishop to be executed in China, the China/USA free trade summit will go off without a hitch. Muir's tale of Bishop's recruitment and training takes us from Vietnam to Germany to Beirut, and we see the behind-the-scenes machinations that REALLY make the world go 'round.... In the hands of a less-skilled director, the constant switching between the CIA tribunal and the globe-trotting flashbacks might have been confusing, but Tony Scott handles them deftly, using little visual tricks to differentiate the various locales, such as the sepia-tinted Vietnam scenes, and the sun-scorched vistas of Beirut. Redford brings humor and depth to Muir; he's always a welcome presence in any movie. Pitt elicits a great sense of sympathy as Bishop, an idealist who might not be cut-throat enough to play this game..... Fans of espionage thrillers won't be disappointed."
Very good movie but I had problems.
budda | Kansas City, MO United States | 04/12/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has been one of the best spy movies to come out in the last 5 years. But the DVD had problems, I dont know if it was with my DVD player or it was the DVD, but my version of this movie kept popping up the damn english captions. It was a huge pain, I tried putting it in my iBook but the same problem came up. I have no idea what the problem was, but that is why I only gave it 3 stars."
A Motion Picture Not To Be Judged By Its Cover!
R.A. McKenzie | New York | 08/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When this movie came out in November 2001, my big brothers took me to see a movie that had Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. "Hmm," I thought, "I'm not sure about this, but it's a free ticket, so what the hell?" Believe me when I say that this movie is so much more complex, intense, and entertaining than it looks. The trailer gives the totally wrong impression of what SPY GAME is about. This is not --- I repeat 'NOT' --- an "action" movie. Instead, SPY GAME takes a thinking-person's knack for clever storytelling, and juices it up with the flashy and quick style seen in many of today's movies. Again, don't let the trailer allow you to judge this film.
Tony Scott's movies have always had that quick-cut, fast-paced, full-force style to them. His brother Ridley Scott is a much better filmmaker; why is that? Because Ridley (THELMA & LOUISE, BLACK HAWK DOWN, ALIEN) has better control of the action and knows when to tone things down. In SPY GAME, Tony Scott finally finds his niche in great filmmaking, where style is complimented by good characters and a terrific story.
Nathan Muir (wonderfully played by Robert Redford)is a CIA operative, who on January 1991, is on his last day before retirement. However, his protege Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt in one of his better roles) is captured in Su Chou Prison in China, while the U.S. and the Chinese are negotiating trade talks.
When Muir learns of Bishop's capture, he races against time to save him from execution. Unfortunately, some CIA investiagtors and bureaucrats aren't as eager because of the aforementioned trade talks. What's fascinating about this setup is that Muir is always one step ahead of the game than those who want to abandon the rogue agent. Instead of this being the "Muir/CIA Showdown" (which we do get some clever exchanges), there is actually a character study underneath it all. As Muir is surrounded in a conference surrounded by his adversaries, pretending to play ball with them, he gives them details about Bishop's past, training, and work ethic. The storytelling is slightly faulty, because there are a few moments where Muir seems to be talking to the audience instead of the characters. But this is where Tony Scott's energy saves these awkward moments, because Scott knew this much dialogue needs good camerawork & actors to keep us interested. Scott invested enough time in the characters as well as the audience's thirst for high-stakes thrills.
Robert Redford hasn't really changed his acting that much since BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, but that's because he's smart enough to know his limitations. He isn't a chameleon who creates characters; Redford just uses his natural gifts to embody the role with his own mannerisms.
Brad Pitt also doesn't do anything groundbreaking, but is also in the right frame of mind that Redford is. Pitt possesses the charm of a gifted agent but the brash ego of a rookie. The supporting cast is also simply acting the way we expect reliable character actors to perform --- they don't try to steal the show and trust the filmmakers. This approach allows Scott's filmmaking style to drive the thriller at its best pace. Pitt and Redford have a chemistry that makes us believe that Muir actually takes pride in Bishop's skills, while needing to maintain discipline and control over his new job. Pitt's counter-reactions to Muir's mind-games give both men a texture not often seen in espionage flicks. SPY GAME involves the morality of the two men, rather than preach about more universal themes.
I hate flashback sequences, but these are impressive and never slow down; much credit belongs to Redford because his narrative voice keeps things going. The present-time Muir/CIA games are very much like a poker game. Without giving away too much, the tactics involve simple tools like pagers, ambiguous dialogue, and keen eyes. There's no violence, or anything that forces us to suspend disbelief. Some neat moments include Muir quickly glancing at key data, and somehow getting information with the vaguest of words. Another is the CIA digging up his office, when Muir has no reasonable excuse for getting out of the interrogation. This movie is never a bore, and is very exciting considering most of it centers around a conference room.
In addition to the strong acting & directing, one of my favorite aspects of this movie is Harry Gregson-Williams's music. His score includes some cool beats during the spy montages, and some powerful chords during those dramatic moments of betrayal and reflection. Of all of the music I've heard from him (he's most famous for Michael Bay pictures ARMAGEDDON and THE ROCK), I easily call this his best work.
I really dig this movie! It's not perfect, and maybe it does borrow some aspects that other thrillers (and maybe Bruckheimer pictures) have done before. But this is a top-notch film with a strong presentation that keeps it moving. Because SPY GAME is energetic and focused at the same time, it's an exceptional film that warrants a purhcase!
FINAL NOTE - The DVD features are all good. There are some behind-the-scenes features that are worth checking out, and the Deleted Scenes (w/ or w/out Commentary) are actually good. I usually don't like Deleted Scenes, because it's obvious why they shouldn't be there. But these actually quite good, and would've added another layer that would've enhanced the story. An excellent movie got a grade-A DVD treatment!"