Spy Game (2001)
Main cast: Robert Redford (Nathan Muir), Brad Pitt (Tom Bishop), Catherine McCormack (Elizabeth Hadley), Stephen Dillane (Charles Harker), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Gladys Jennip), and Larry Bryggman (Troy Folger)
Director: Tony Scott


Earth paging Brad Pitt. Earth paging Brad Pitt. Nuancing and emoting are not crimes in acting, I repeat, nuancing and emoting are not crimes in acting. It will not cause your Ken doll face to wrinkle.

Spy Game has a wonderful premise, but Brad Pitt's tree impersonation and Robert Redford's smug, sleepwalkish acting ruin everything. When a movie has me alternating between wanting to smack either one of the arrogant, condescending male leads, this movie is in trouble.

This movie is told mainly in flashbacks, sometimes in black and white for that cool effect. It's about this spy, Nathan Muir, who is on his last day of work. He has trained rookie Tom Bishop before Bishop left for a mission to China. Time? 1991. The mission ends up with Bishop in a Chinese prison, with the CIA not caring at all. Muir decides to... well, if you want to know, go watch the movie.

This movie then goes on to detail how Nathan and Tommy bond as the senior spy tutors the younger spy, a beautiful relationship reminiscent of Malboro Man and an impressionable teen. Tom falls in love with a target, Brit foreign-aid worker Elizabeth Hadley, because, you know, he's Brad Pitt and we all need some obligatory shirtless scenes from Pitty. I mean, why else would you want Pitty in a movie - any movie - anyway, right?

Pitt conveys trust and love like the face of a smooth plastic tray. Redford does better - hey, he can act, people. He is only sleepwalking here, replaying all those previous roles he had played better (The Great Gatsby, Three Days Of The Condor) like an embarrassing caricature.

But hey, look, this movie is full of slick gadgets. Wow. How much did Nokia and other high-tech communication gadgetry companies sponsor this movie, man? Maybe Pitty's maintenance bills must be high.

Either way, Spy Game may be making some points about the CIA, but as a non-American who pretty much never cared in the first place, most of the inside satire is lost on me. Any potentially interesting elements of sacrifice, male bonding and homoeroticism, trust, and betrayal are like water poured over the two leads' impersonation of sleeping pills. They should have just tattooed the male macho message on Pitty's bare back in those love scene thingies.

Rating: 75


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