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
Tony Scott gave each flashback a distinct look to remind the viewer of that time in history. For Vietnam, he desaturated the colours to give it this "strange sepia green." See more »
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 »
Spy Game will probably never be considered among the best spy movies to come out of Hollywood, however, it is a really entertaining movie with quite a few surprises.
The movie is set in the early 1990's. Nathan Muir (Redford) is a retiring CIA officer who learns that his former protégé Tom Bishop (Pitt) has been captured while attempting a prison rescue in China and will be executed shortly. CIA brass want to know what motivated Bishop to attempt this unauthorized action and they interview Muir to find out. Muir tells the story of how he met and trained Bishop: from Vietnam to Berlin to Beirut. While Muir is setting the background, he is also working secretly behind the scenes to free Bishop. Will Muir's cloak and dagger antics be discovered before he has a chance to free Bishop? Overall the movie is not as good as other spy genre films such as Three Days of the Condor, Spy Who Came in From the Cold, or Hunt for Red October. I think Redford does well in the role of the retiring, slightly jaded CIA officer Muir. Pitt does well with what he's given, though I think his character suffers from poor writing, especially near the end of the film. Think of Spy Game as a more sophisticated Mission: Impossible (that's no knock on M:I) and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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