Gum, a Pocket Knife, and a Smile
Spy Game
Review by Ross Anthony

The sweetest thing about this action thriller is not the action -- it's the finesse. The minimal action is almost incidental. "Spy Game" gives the seasoned protagonist's "last day on the job" retirement cliché a different spin.

Redford plays the artful CIA spy hesitating to clock out for the last time. After learning that Pitt, his well-trained "spy pupil," has been nabbed in China awaiting execution and with only 24 hours to neutralize the situation politically, Redford is called into a top secret CIA committee to spill what he knows about Pitt to a room full of armchair agents. Though they play him for information, Redford's apt spy skills, attention to detail, and smarts kick into high gear, allowing him to patiently and covertly take control of the situation at hand without leaving the building. Meanwhile, Redford's narratives of his mentoring Pitt from Vietnam to Beirut '85 share screen time.

Colleague: We want you to be a team player on this one.
Redford: (smirks) Every time coach told me that, I knew I was about to get benched.

Redford is very good; Pitt is excellent (though it's a bit of a leap to believe he was soldier age in 1968). Filmed and scored with a stylish edge, "Spy Game" teaches to all levels of the class (at times, sharper filmgoers will feel a bit patronized, while others may feel a bit confused). Though admirably daunting at first, the armchair agents become buffoony too soon. Still, "Spy Game" makes a fine evening out.

Pitt: You can't trade these people like they're baseball cards. It's not a game!
Redford: Yes it is.

  • Spy Game. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane, Larry Bryggman, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, David Hemmings.
  • Directed by Tony Scott.
  • Written by Michael Frost Beckner, David Arata, Story by: Michael Frost Beckner.
  • Produced by Douglas Wick, Marc Abraham at Universal/Beacon.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:54:15 PDT