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Spy Game
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Spy Game More at IMDbPro »

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301 out of 358 people found the following review useful:

In response to the negative reviews

10/10
Author: CRTF (fox@sedona.net) from Sedona, Arizona
18 August 2002

I can't believe some of the nonsense I've read here. People are complaining that Redford looked too old in the flashback scenes -- for one, I thought he looked believable. Secondly, Hollywood hasn't cloned Redford in a vat yet so we'll just have to live with scenes like this. So get over it. Others complain that the movie is somehow BORING, which blows my mind, considering it's non-stop, fast paced action and dialogue. If you're attention span is too short for this movie I'm sure you'll enjoy crap like "XXX". Others complain about messy plot logic (how did a CIA operative get into a Chinese prison? Huuu duhh, I dunno! It's a popcorn flick you morons! It's not a 900 page novel or a documentary). The plot takes a few leaps here and there, but a Snake Eyes or Face/Off this film is not. I read complaints about the 'arty', flashy 'MTV' style editing and filming techniques -- I actually thought the movie was filmed and edited superbly and the contemporary, TV-commercial style actually complemented the film. It's crisp, tight, taut and entertaining. You get the feeling this is a high-quality production, whereas with something like "Mission Impossible 2" the same type of style is implemented but it comes off feeling cheap. Not here, not with this movie. As with Enemy of the State, it works. I have a feeling some of the people that thought it was boring simply couldn't follow what was going on. The plot does make sense if you have the attention span to keep up.

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157 out of 181 people found the following review useful:

Better the n-th time around.

9/10
Author: imdb-com-109 (imdb.com@moreilly.com) from United States
4 April 2006

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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135 out of 163 people found the following review useful:

High quality Hollywood thriller

8/10
Author: snake77 from Portland, OR
5 December 2001

Spy Game is everything we're not supposed to expect from a major Hollywood movie: engrossing, intelligent, well written, acted and directed. But that's just what it is and more, this is definitely the best thing I've seen since Memento. Although Pitt is really good and Redford plays himself as well as he has in years, I think the most credit should go to Tony Scott. In the hands of a lesser director this could have been something more like Mission Impossible. But Scott stays right on target, keeping us interested, developing the characters, and keeping the pacing nearly perfect. Scott also shows us that he's stayed with the times: he employs the full array of modern camera tricks like fast motion, reverse zooms and funky lenses but in a way that actually makes the film better instead of being an annoying distraction. The dialogue feels natural, all the actors do good work, no one tries to steal the show or be the star. The story is interesting and almost never lapses into the kind of hyper violence or sappy sentimentality one has come to associate with modern studio pictures. You get a feeling this is pretty close to how the CIA really operates, a place with fantastic technology at its disposal but who's ultimate effectiveness is determined by the fallible people who run the missions and take the chances. I really enjoyed this film, I hope it's a sign of things to come and not a rarity.

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89 out of 110 people found the following review useful:

this is a whole different game...

9/10
Author: hapiores from Portugal
31 March 2005

There are many reasons why we like a movie or not. For me, this is the case in witch small things were enough to like it: the two main actors, the places in which the action occurs, and the fact that it has more to do with a love affair, in a tragic atmosphere than about spies. Well, of course this is about spies - two of them - and mostly about the relation between them; if they are similar enough to understand each other, they are also different enough to generate some tension in the relation.

Maybe this is more about how the characters move around each others than about action or intrigue. In fact this is so obvious that the way in which the story is told is mostly in flashback, with Muir (Robert Redford) introducing all of them and narrating part. So, the story is the story and the spy game is what Muir does within the CIA, in 24 hours or so. The distinction is important because if you think of this as a traditional spy movie (maybe like the Bourne Identity or Supremacy) it has two obvious flaws for the genre: the plot is very simple (maybe predictable) and there's no bad guy, no one to kill or to revenge; there's also almost no genuine action, and, as far as I can remember, Bishop (Brad Pitt) only fires one weapon in the whole movie. Maybe what mislead most of the people was the title of the movie, and maybe that's why most of them didn't like it. However, in my opinion, this is a very good movie, with strong leading roles and a compelling story.

No gadgets, no arms, no villains, no action...oh, no,this is a whole different game, and it's a serious and a dangerous game: the game of people and their relations.

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74 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

Not just another Tony Scott action film--it's complex, thought-provoking. *** (out of four)

7/10
Author: Blake French (baffilmcritic@cs.com) from USA
2 January 2002

SPY GAME / (2001) *** (out of four)

Tony Scott is known for his big budget, fast-paced, action-packed extravaganzas. His latest film, "Spy Game" is no exception. He takes advantage of a massive budget, but loses sight of human comprehension. It's difficult to grasp his moral when it's awash in a superficial style where individual shots seldom last more than thirty seconds, and where dialogue never exceeds the length of a short paragraph. There's not much time to introduce characters, situations, or even locations-datelines appear on the screen to identify times and places.

Yet, it doesn't just feel as if we are in another movie by Tony Scott-everything feels very real. The danger is real. The characters are real. Many action films are about the action, special effects, and car chase sequences. "Spy Game" does contain those things, but they are in a focused, tight, evocative thriller. This movie is about the characters, not the action. It never forgets that.

"Spy Game" contains a complex structure. We begin in 1991. Veteran CIA officer Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) prepares for retirement. On his last day, he learns that his one-time protégé, Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), has been captured in a foreign prison on a charge of espionage and will be executed in 24 hours. Fearing international crisis, the CIA decides it would be too risky to save him. But with a new generation in control of the agency, Nathan is no longer an insider. He must outsmart his own agency in order to save his old friend.

Most of the film plays out in flashbacks as the CIA digests valuable information from Muir. The movie spans from the Vietnam war to the end of the Cold War, with years ranging from 1965 to about 1991 (although the characters don't seem to age much). We learn Nathan chose Tom as a sharpshooter in Vietnam. He trained with Bishop. They formed a close bond, until something came between them-a woman.

The forty-year span in time poses no problem for "Spy Game." The engaging screenplay, by Michael Frost Beckner and David Arata, focuses on only the necessary characters. The soundtrack, by Harry Gregson-Williams, masterfully captures the various time periods, spicing the scenes with a slick sense of style and intrigue. The cinematography by Daniel Mindel makes the differences in location clear. Christian Wagner's editing gives the movie a frenzied, almost rushed emotion, that puts us right in the middle of the race against time.

Pitt and Redford retain their ground, despite a thick style. Redford creates a character out of nothing. We know little about him at the beginning, and we know little about him at the end. But he somehow gives his character a conscience, human values, and a lot of interest. We care about him because we do not like the black and white CIA operatives. Thus, we care about Pitt's character as well. Pitt gives his character an immature nature. He is in a stereotypical young hotshot role that might have fit him better a few years ago, but he still creates a grave sense of panic and fear.

With a structure like this, we expect subplots to evolve from the flashbacks. There is an intriguing terrorist story. A love story. Themes about betrayal, trust, position, friendship, commitment…but "Spy Game" never slows down and allows us to absorb these important details. By the end, we feel exhilarated, and we know we just watched a very smart, well-crafted film, but the most we can take from it is that it is a very smart, well-crafted film. I think, beneath all the style and surface, there is a little more to the movie than that.

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104 out of 165 people found the following review useful:

Average moviegoer won't appreciate it

10/10
Author: CRTF (fox@sedona.net) from Arizona USA
10 May 2002



STYLE, SUBSTANCE AND CLASS! Spy Game will blow right over the heads of most audiences and it obviously has. It's an underrated, taut masterpiece that gets everthing right -- the writing, directing, editing, acting is all Oscar caliber. Not to mention it's one hell of an ambitious production. Spy Game is what happens when professionals in the business come together to make an intelligent, masterfully crafted thinking man's actioner that as a viewer you can have complete confidence in while viewing -- that's a rare thing these days in Hollywood. It's a rare gem that reminded me of Clear and Present Danger. Let's hope we see a lot more of this, and a lot LESS of X-Men, Mission Impossible, Rush Hour, Pearl Harbor, Lord of the Rings and other utter boring trash passed off as action fare.

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65 out of 96 people found the following review useful:

Quality movie...

10/10
Author: Alexander Volpin from Moscow, Russia
12 June 2002

This is a very neat and intelligent movie. Everything about is perfect, no flaws really. Pitt shines better than in Fight Club here! But what really makes it even better than it is, it is the soundtrack which is absolutely stunning. You could feel european quality approach...Highly Recommend!

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40 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Maybe a little far-fetched, but clever.

7/10
Author: lukabrasi from United States
18 February 2005

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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33 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Worths a lot!

10/10
Author: marcelloazolino from Brasilia, Brazil
23 July 2002

Spy Game is funny,interesting and action of first category.The story is about the rescue of Tom Bishop(played by Brad Pitt)a spy who is in jail in a prison in China.Everything happens in a terrible time when the US is in negotiations of peace with China.So the CIA doesn't mean to save the body of the agent, who is ward, of Nathan Muir(Redford,the best in the picture).So Muir has to rescue Bishop in 24 hours so he's going to be executed by the chineses.

The story is all told in flashbacks.But Tony Scott was very competent telling the story in a very modern way,as usual!He is used to do a very interesting game with the cameras.Showing quick scenes and a fast rythman.The story is incredible and you won't be disapointed!If you liked Enemy of the State which was made by the same director you'll like a lot this motion picture.Two thumbs up!!!

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

excellent film

10/10
Author: tz247 from South Korea
17 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Top notch thriller. Engrossing, though typical plot/subplot (two men develop friendship, woman comes between them, but buddy helps out and saves couple) and great character development considering characters are supposed to be mysterious spies and very little is told about their background.

Robert Redford is a cynical, yet warm mentor, and Brad Pitt is a hotshot moralist as well as being the best assassin in the "business". Redford is an old-school operative who uses his 'tradecraft' to out-wit the technology the modern CIA now relies on, to bust his protégée out of a Chinese prison after Pitt's character, a rogue agent, uses CIA resources to rescue his girlfriend, fails and ends up in prison himself facing execution in less then 24 hours for being a spy . The relationship between the two men is told in a series of flashbacks that span a time-line of about 20 years starting during the Vietnam war to the cold war in Berlin and the mean streets of Beruit as Redford's character stalls for time during a debriefing into the rescue failure on his last day of work before retirement. In the meantime, between breaks of debriefing, he mines for information about why the CIA won't save one of their own as well as setting up a covert operation to get Pitt and his girlfriend out of prison before they are executed.

Cinematography is reminiscent of brother Ridley (grainy, washed-out imagery in tones of brown and blue), and editing and camera movement is more like recent films from Woo or Ang Lee. The action is realistic without being over the top. There are no fancy gadgets or impossible stunts.

Compared to stuff like XXX (or worse, XXX-2), Mission Impossible 1 & 2, or any number of action thrillers about secret agents (such as the most recent crop of James Bond films or Charlie's Angels), this movie seems to tell it the way it is or the way you might think reality might be. The "tradecraft" actually makes way more sense then, say, a watch with a laser cutter built in or a car with missiles an ejection seat. All in all, a very watchable and believable film.

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