Directed by Tony Scott.
Written by Michael Frost Beckner and David Arata.
Starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 11/30/01
Tony Scott may have muffed it on his
previous work, "Enemy of the State", but he gets it right in his new
film "Spy Game."
The director, best known for being the
director of "Top Gun", has a wordy, intelligent script to work from
and gets eye candy Brad Pitt and Robert Redford to work with on his
effort. It's the early 1990s, and retiring CIA officer Nathan Muir
(Redford) has 24 hours to get his top protege, Tom Bishop (Pitt),
out of a South China prison before Chinese government officials
execute him for espionage. Making the assignment more difficult is
a CIA special committee led by a rival agent (Stephen Dillane) that
wants to leave Bishop for dead for reasons that come out during the
course of the film. Almost all of Pitt's scenes take place in
flashback, to show us how he became one of the top spies in the
world and what got him into so much trouble with the Chinese.
Although it is low on action, this film
really worked for me. This is mostly due to the writing, and the
strange camaraderie between Redford and Pitt. There is a lot to
follow in this film, and while it is not terribly hard to
understand, you do have to stay alert to put it all together by the
end. Redford once again seems to be going through the motions with
his character, but since his lines are so smart and oftentimes so
funny, this is fine. And, is his face ready-made to be my next
leather jacket? Forget Eastwood, forget Edward James Olmos...Redford
may have taken over in the facial leather category. Pitt is great
again, and minimal support from other players is enough to keep the
film moving along.
And, this is not an oft-visited destination
in today's films, so going back ten years ago (and further, during
Vietnam and Middle East sequences in the mid-70s and mid-80s) is a
welcome change. With the change comes the opportunity for making
jokes about the old David Hasselhoff series "Baywatch", which gets a
great laugh near the end of the film. It is long even if it doesn't
*feel* long, but for a matinee price, this one is great stuff.
Rating: $8.25 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard