Two young soldiers, Bartle (21) and Murph (18) navigate the terrors of the Iraq war under the command of the older, troubled Sergeant Sterling. All the while, Bartle is tortured by a promise he made to Murph's mother before their deployment.
What comes to mind when we talk about a spy films? Something like Mission Impossible, James Bond or a little different ones like Salt, Red Sparrow and so on... ?
Well there is a basic difference between spy fiction and the reality of spy trade-craft. Although the most exciting of the spy thrillers try to capture some of the elements of real world spying but those are mostly technical aspects which are adopted to give these movies a certain credibility; to make them believable to some extent.
Spy biopics like 'The Catcher Was a Spy' are different from these spy action thrillers because the titular characters are not out there to perform stunts. They are out there to gather real and sensitive information. Information which could decide the fate of a real war and a real man's life. The thrill in this movie comes from the grand scope of the mission and the conversely understated actions of a spy so as to avoid all attention. There are no guns blazing here.
This is Paul Rudd's classic regular guy performances at it's best. The real life Moe Berg was an anomaly. A sportsman with unexceptional career but a genius mind of sorts. Quite simply a good candidate for a spy in second world war but not of much use afterwards.
If you are watching this movie for the spy thrills then you might be disappointed. However, if you want to get a glimpse of what an American spy must have found out after talking to people like Werner Heisenberg about the nuclear weapons program of Nazi Germany, then it might be worth it.
I can compare 'The Catcher was a Spy' to a bit more contemporary spy biopic like 'Snowden'. Although completely different in tone and nature, both these spy biopics have something in common. They are about getting to know the mind of the person. Both these movies try to bring out the inner complexities of these people who are quite literally doing a job that demands them to be secretive, deceptive and yet charming.
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