CIA operative Nathan Muir (Redford) is on the brink of retirement when he finds out that his protege Tom Bishop (Pitt) has been arrested in China for espionage. No stranger to the machinations of the CIA's top echelon, Muir hones all his skills and irreverent manner in order to find a way to free Bishop. As he embarks on his mission to free Bishop, Muir recalls how he recruited and trained the young rookie, at that time a sergeant in Vietnam, their turbulent times together as operatives and the woman who threatened their friendship. Written by
The prison guards are speaking Cantonese instead of Mandarin, and the Chinese characters shown are traditional Chinese characters whereas in mainland China people use simplified Chinese characters. See more »
In the opening credits, many of the credits are each preceded by a jumble of letters flickering on the screen. This may be a reference to the opening credit sequence of one of Robert Redford's earlier spy movies, Sneakers (1992). See more »
I made the mistake of only watching this film once the first time around. I did end up buying it, though I was never sure why. Then, years later, I got around to watching it again... and again... and again... While Spy Game is so fast-paced that it's difficult to keep up the first time around, I think that's what makes it such a great DVD.
There are performances in this movie that defy description. You almost get a sense that if you were to meet him in the street, you'd get someone named Nathan Muir playing the part of Robert Redford - the transformation is that complete. In several scenes, but especially the scene on the Berlin rooftop, Redford gives a performance that is unlike almost anything I've ever seen in cinema. It's that perfect. Brad Pitt also does an amazing job, but Redford steals the whole movie.
I had to re-watch Spy Game three times before I felt I got a complete understanding of everything going on. There is almost nothing given away for free in this movie - none of the standard Hollywood "shove-it-in-your-face-so-you're-sure-to-get-it" fare. Every decision, most plot points, and a lot of what would normally be called "meaningful looks" are written on Muir's face for a split second, then they're gone.
This is one of the few movies that's intellectually challenging to watch. It takes patience and a quick assessment of each scene to understand and keep up. None of the acting is over the top or explicit; most everything is controlled, subtle, and delicately handled.
All in all, Spy Game is an exceptional movie, IMO, to watch and in some ways to study.
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