3 1/2 Stars
Spy Game is a carefully plotted and rather ingenious story set over the course of one day. The action takes place inside CIA headquarters located in Langley, Virginia, while also flashing to a Chinese prison where former shadow agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) is awaiting execution in twenty-four hours. When Bishop’s rogue mission goes awry, he’s captured and sentenced to death. With a short deadline, Bishop’s former boss Nathan Muir (Redford) must navigate the political sharks inside the agency while battling enemies abroad in saving his protegé’s life.
This set up is followed by a series of intricate and well-acted scenes that detail Muir’s gathering of intelligence from his superiors while seeming to aid in their ‘investigation’ of Bishop. Meanwhile, the story offers flashbacks that lays-out the back story and recruiting of Bishop into Muir’s outfit.
Complications arise in the form of an attractive foreign aid worker (Catherine McCormack). Her burgeoning romance with Bishop leads to his expulsion from the agency and her detention in a Chinese prison. The very place that Bishop was trying to break-into when he was captured by authorities.
Director Tony Scott’s visual style is more aggressive here than in previous pictures, though not as full-blown as Man on Fire would be, but he navigates the various layers of plotting and still hits every beat with ease. It feels like an easy day’s work at the office for the venerable filmmaker, Spy Game would be a mess of a film in less confident hands.
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Catherine McCormack