More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.08%
Worth A Look52.56%
Average: 6.41%
Pretty Bad: 14.1%
Total Crap: 3.85%

4 reviews, 54 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Black Christmas (2019) by Peter Sobczynski

Richard Jewell by Peter Sobczynski

Dachra by Jay Seaver

Little Joe (2019) by Jay Seaver

Knives and Skin by Jay Seaver

Rabid (2019) by Rob Gonsalves

Irishman, The by Rob Gonsalves

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project by Rob Gonsalves

Kitchen, The (2019) by Rob Gonsalves

Whistleblower, The (2019) by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Spy Game
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Robert Redford and Brad Pitt are: James Blond."
4 stars

It is strange that "Spy Game" should be as thrilling as it is, considering most of its action takes place in flashbacks and memories. Even the stuff that happens "now" is set 10 years ago.

And yet, there it is, a satisfying and entertaining spy movie where the good guys are the men out in the trenches and the bad guys are the Ivory Tower bureaucrats.

The story at hand is that somewhat-rogue CIA agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) has been captured in China and will be executed tomorrow at 8 a.m. unless the U.S. gets him out. The U.S., however, is in the midst of major trade negotiations with China and doesn't want to rock the boat; besides, Tom was acting on his own when he was arrested, without orders from the CIA.

"The CIA is looking for a reason to let the Chinese kill Tom Bishop." So says Tom's mentor, trainer and father figure, about-to-retire Nathan Muir (Robert Redford). He's called in to a meeting with top CIA officials to give background on Tom, and that's when we start flashing back.

Nathan is an old-school spy who says all you really need for any case is a "stick of gum, a pocketknife and a suitcase," who knows to never get close to an informant, who has learned through his years at the CIA how to outsmart the CIA.

Tom is headstrong and emotional, and it was his attachment to an informant (Catherine McCormack) that got him in trouble in the first place.

Nathan wants Tom to follow in his footsteps, while at the same time keeping him from becoming the no-face secret agent he has become. For the mentor/protege dynamic, the casting couldn't be better: Watch "The Sting" and you'll see how much your young Robert Redford looks like your current Brad Pitt. How better to symbolize Tom's slowly "becoming" Nathan than by choosing actors who look like opposite-aged versions of each other?

Redford is intense and fascinating as a man slowly realizing his own employer is the one not to be trusted. Pitt doesn't have as much to do as the deeply conflicted Tom, but Tom and Nathan's relationship is strongly established and Pitt proves he can hold his own against Hollywood legends.

The fast-cut editing and technological gadgetry recall director Tony Scott's previous film, "Enemy of the State," which also cast a dim view on government. (A pack of Morley cigarettes here is a sly reference to another anti-government bastion, "The X-Files," where Morley was the Cigarette Smoking Man's brand of choice.)

No new ground is broken in the genre of espionage films, but Nathan Muir would probably agree that sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 11/28/01 10:40:25
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell good 4 stars
7/24/10 bagwell5 In my top 20 for the 2000's. I really enjoyed the flashback segments. 5 stars
12/25/09 Jeff Wilder Redford and Pitt are good. But the overall story adds up to not much. 3 stars
10/13/08 Shaun Wallner Great Movie!! 5 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini saw it but have no memory so it must have sucked 2 stars
1/09/06 WiseMan Its like a more Realistic Belivable James Bond Movie 5 stars
11/15/05 Wendy Sue plot loose at times, but kept me interested 4 stars
8/18/05 ES Only bad thing is Pitt-iful 4 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig A realistic look (I think) at how the CIA really works. 4 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams good looking guys and shit blowing up. All I need in life. 4 stars
4/30/04 Boris Brilliant! Somehow it works despite the inherent lack of action. Redford is quality viewing 5 stars
3/28/04 r Very Kinetic: Both the story and camera the never stop moving. 5 stars
3/15/04 R.W. Welch Intriguing plot, convincing performances. Redford's best in a while. 4 stars
11/29/03 john great script and Redford is as good as he's ever been - remarkable 5 stars
8/08/03 francis Interesting story, pity about confusing delivery, ageless characters, and incredibility 4 stars
7/28/03 Alex Has too much to go get through for its running time, and pays for it, but still entertainin 4 stars
7/17/03 Mr. Hat Really exciting, well-acted, entertaining. Good screenplay and directing. 5 stars
3/25/03 Jack Sommersby Can't keep its mind on any one thing for long, and the result is frustrating. 2 stars
8/03/02 The Man Good enough for one viewing. Pitt and Redford not aging is distracting. 4 stars
7/28/02 Kyle Started out interesting. Ended shitty. 2 stars
7/14/02 sdjfsdkjf the first 10 mins with Pitt were interesting then it just grew fucken boring. 3 stars
7/06/02 Film Guy I Was kick ass surprised 4 stars
6/23/02 wyrock boring, confusing, James Bond still rules 2 stars
6/23/02 Phil M. Aficionado Redford, Pitt, and the location work make a ho-hum film better than it is. Slick filming. 4 stars
5/17/02 Nicola Green yr ded 5 stars
4/30/02 Phoenix Has some good moments, but overall it's dull. 3 stars
4/27/02 Mo Anand The movie had a very slow start...but picked up. Luckily it's a great cast 4 stars
4/19/02 Monday Morning Good fast-paced drama. Plot twists are NOT that predictable. 5 stars
4/09/02 lauren mccreight not bad....but nothing special either... 3 stars
2/22/02 Kristi Fun Movie 5 stars
2/17/02 John Lyons Good part for Redford. He's still the good guy standing up to the evil establishment. 5 stars
2/13/02 Jimbo Well made but overall it is fairly predictable. Worth A Look 4 stars
2/10/02 David A. One of the few believable spy movies--I could relate to the characters. 5 stars
1/14/02 ju j 1 stars
12/21/01 Johnny Walker Cool movie. Really. Thought it would stink but no. The fast camera crap is now passe tho... 4 stars
12/16/01 spaceworm Redford star-persona low-key acting tutorial for Brad. 4 stars
12/08/01 Martin Quite good 3+/5 4 stars
12/05/01 spencer bailey kick ass movie...not the greatest spy movie, but definitely up thier 4 stars
12/04/01 Obi Wan Good sitting. The little action it did have was very good. A Should See. 4 stars
12/03/01 FrayLo Disorienting at first; still a great movie 4 stars
12/02/01 John Mitchell I wish our spyies were this good 4 stars
12/01/01 The Alter Ego This is one LAME-ASS PIECE OF SHIT. Brad Pitt sucks big fat hairy ass. 1 stars
12/01/01 dkentropy Good Story. Great acting. Execellent flow and feel to the film. A great film 5 stars
11/30/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) The best part was the huge fucking explosion. 3 buildings in a row were half-gone! Kickass! 4 stars
11/30/01 Xalt Intelligent romance. Amazing story. Cool spy stuff. See it. 5 stars
11/30/01 speedy Great flick..must see for espionage buffs 5 stars
11/29/01 kishuta A great view into what spys really do. Paper work. 5 stars
11/27/01 damon_dee brad pitt is one cool fucking bastard 5 stars
11/27/01 wintermute Hehe.That wily, foxy robert redford outsmarting them all. Shut the fuck up. 2 stars
11/26/01 asdfk; I expected more; Nice photography; Pleasant yet not quite filling 3 stars
11/26/01 danger_boy Suprisingly good... I could not believe it. 5 stars
11/25/01 poetchuck Interesting tension inside "The Company" 4 stars
11/22/01 Superdave Excellent! 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  21-Nov-2001 (R)
  DVD: 09-Apr-2002

  23-Nov-2001 (15)

  24-Jan-2002 (M)

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast