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Retiring CIA agent Nathan Muir recalls his training of Tom Bishop while working against agency politics to free him from his Chinese captors.

Director:

Tony Scott

Writers:

Michael Frost Beckner (story), Michael Frost Beckner (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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2,888 ( 652)
3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Redford ... Nathan Muir
Brad Pitt ... Tom Bishop
Catherine McCormack ... Elizabeth Hadley
Stephen Dillane ... Charles Harker
Larry Bryggman ... Troy Folger
Marianne Jean-Baptiste ... Gladys Jennip
Matthew Marsh ... Dr. William Byars
Todd Boyce ... Robert Aiken
Michael Paul Chan ... Vincent Vy Ngo
Garrick Hagon ... CIA Director Cy Wilson
Andrew Grainger Andrew Grainger ... Andrew Unger
Bill Buell ... Fred Kappler
Colin Stinton ... Henry Pollard
Ted Maynard Ted Maynard ... CIA Administrator
Tom Hodgkins Tom Hodgkins ... CIA Lobby Guard
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Storyline

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 ck

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In the end, only friendship matters! See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some violence and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Universal

Country:

Germany | USA | Japan | France

Language:

English | German | Arabic | French | Cantonese

Release Date:

21 November 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

SpyGame See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$115,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,689,125, 25 November 2001, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$26,871, 22 February 2002

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$143,049,560, 31 December 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Amidou, the actor who plays the doctor, is Moroccan and had to learn his lines phonetically. See more »

Goofs

When Muir first puts the Bishop files in the "burn bag", the top of the bag is crumpled. Moments later when his secretary Gladys is holding the bag, the top of the bag is neatly folded down. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Ahmed: [preparing him for him to help with their next op] Tell me. Is it hard?
Tom Bishop: Is what hard?
Dr. Ahmed: Is it hard? To take a life?
Tom Bishop: [Long pause after a sigh] Yes.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film is dedicated to Elizabeth Jean Scott, Tony Scott's mother, that died that year. See more »

Connections

Features The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Four Seasons Concerto No. 1 in E Spring
Written by Antonio Vivaldi
Performed by Nigel Kennedy / English Chamber Orchestra
Courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Not just another Tony Scott action film--it's complex, thought-provoking. *** (out of four)
2 January 2002 | by Movie-12See all my reviews

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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