Movie Review: Spy Game (2001)

Starring: Robert Redford, Brad Pitt and Catherine McCormack

Directed by: Tony Scott

CIA operative Nathan Muir is on the cusp of retirement when he finds out that his protege, Tom Bishop, is being held captive in a Chinese prison and is due to be executed. Muir calls in all his owed favours and resources to try and break Bishop out of the prison before the 24 hour deadline expires.

Over the years Brad Pitt has become one of my favourite actors to watch as he usually puts on incredible displays of acting and he features in some of my favourite films such as; Inglorious Basterds, Fight Club, Seven and Kalifornia. While not all of his movies have been top notch, that’s right I’m looking at you Burn After Reading, his performance is usually of high quality even if the movie is not. I was excited to see the pairing of Brad Pitt and Robert Redford and espionage movies have always been a favourite of mine.

The movie started off very well as Brad Pitt’s character Tom Bishop is trying to rescue and break out somebody from a Chinese Prison and the scenes were tense and full of suspense. I was a little disappointed that the movie didn’t continue with that momentum as it quickly switched to an office style environment at the CIA headquarters in Virginia where Robert Redford’s character Nathan Muir takes centre stage. Nathan Muir is a day from retirement and was Tom Bishops trainer, he’s called in for a background and character check on the supposedly rogue operative which was interesting but to a degree but I felt took away from the fantastic opener. Spy Game then preceded to use mostly flashbacks to see how Bishop was recruited and what led him to trying an attempted break out of a Chinese prison when the Chinese and US relationships are fragile to say the least. While the story being told was good at developing the characters and back stories of both Tom Bishop and Nathan Muir, I really wasn’t overly interested in what happened some years ago in West Germany and Lebanon. I was a lot more interested in the developing story in China which only took up a slight portion of the movie which was a little disheartening.

The acting from both leads was great as you’d expect and they were helped by a solid supporting cast. I really liked the Arabic music that was used while the story focused on Bishop’s Lebanon assignment, it really set the mood and tone of the movie and really suited the film perfectly. I also really enjoyed the mysterious nature of Nathan Muir as he kept himself a complete secret, showcasing his espionage ability. The story at times felt a little prolonged and dragged out and could’ve easily been reduced by 10-15 minutes or so as the two hour runtime did seem to a little unnecessary.

Overall, Spy Game was fairly decent with some very good performances from both Pitt and Redford. The movie didn’t focus on what I thought would’ve been a better story which would’ve been filled with a lot more drama and tension but what we got was still ok.


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