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Spy Game (2001)

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2:30 | Trailer

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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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Popularity
2,794 ( 555)
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:

It's not how you play the game. It's how the game plays you. 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

Part of the film was originally set to have been filmed in Israel, but due to the sudden escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (in September-October 2000), and following the requirements of the actors' insurance companies, the filming took place in Morocco instead. See more »

Goofs

The film takes place in 1991. The trade confirmation form that Harker acquires shows Muir having liquidated his assets that day, and signed the form on "10/11/90". In a similar vein, the deed Muir receives from the C.I.A. director is dated "November 1990". Yet, a TV report refers to the "2nd Anniversary Berlin Wall" which supports the idea of the film taking place in 1991. See more »

Quotes

Nathan Muir: You go off the reservation, I will not come after you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Featured in Loose Canon: 9/11 (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
Written by Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn
Performed by Dean Martin
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Smilie's Game: Spy the Image
23 November 2001 | by tedgSee all my reviews

Tony delivers something I would have expected from brother Ridley -- a set of images about images:

--the photographic and editing style is one of successive photographs often shifted/zoomed with the shutter click; some black and whites, many color deprived.

--the hero's cover story is as a photo journalist and his photos are shown the same as the CIA's, Redford's recollections, and the 'narrator's.'

--The agency is primarily about images in real life, images and action and that's self-referentially played up here. Scott uses a style of zooming in and out by jump cuts that he developed on his last film -- also about images and the intelligence community. Lots of cameras and binoculars here.

--the dramatic action is global, involving several hotspots with lots of action. When viewing that action, the cameras are hand-held. When watching the calm, controlling scenes at headquarters, we see them more statically as they are being videotaped, often spying through blinds. (Spy = see.) Often the images have digital tags.

--Some of the field scenes with Redford and Pitt are shot as though from a spy plane (as in that swooping, sweeping shot on a roof) or if interior as seen through a hole.

--Lots of helicopter shots, and lots of helicopters. It seems every combination was employed among the following: ground, interior of heli, interior of second heli, front of heli, heli POV, above heli. This by itself is self-referential when you notice how many of the 'ordinary' shots are from helis.

There is also a clever self-reference in the casting. Pitt was hailed as the 'new Redford' when he appeared in 'Thelma and Louise,' by brother Ridley. Then in 'River Runs' he was directed by Redford, in a Redfordlike role, underscoring the relationship. Here, he also is mentored, but in my opinion outacts Redford at every turn. I believe Scott intended to use Redford's limits as a tired actor to the advantage of this reference. Pitt has been working hard in relatively minor but challenging roles and the results show.

The only real complaints are the clumsy plot mechanics: the last day before retirement -- a clear 24 hour to doom clock -- a wily and complete outwitting of the pencilnecks -- all the CIA analysts and technicians as outwittable dimmies -- a senior character says 'get everything we have on so and so' and 10 seconds later a secretary appears with the files in multiple copies -- a helicopter is shot down: it disappears behind the trees and then we see a fireball. Fortunately we gloss over all that stuff. Couldn't in 'Enemy of the State.'


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