Directed by Tony Scott. USA. 2001.

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Spy Game. All Rights Reserved.There are certain things that you will always hold onto from childhood. For some, a camping trip. For some, a birthday party. Being the movie geek that I am I would be remiss if I were to omit my first viewing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This was not only the first movie I ever saw sans parents, but the specific point in time where I developed a life threatening crush on Robert Redford. I was 10 then. Iím 24 now, and that crush has not disappeared. It brought me to ďSneakers.Ē It made me pay my own hard earned Canadian dollars for my own copy of The Natural. Most recently, itís made me rent Spy Game.

Spy Game is the story of a friendship under extreme pressure. Tom Bishop, a CIA agent, gets captured in an unsanctioned rescue mission through an oriental prison. His mentor, Nathan Muir, has 24 hours to convince the US government to claim the rogue agent, or he will be executed.

Brad Pitt (Sleepers, 12 Monkeys) plays the idealistic Bishop, bringing to him an unmatched combination of maturity and mischief. The script fully develops Bishop into a complex role; at once valuing life and willing to take it. His character is easy to like for his wicked sense of humour and easy to admire for his bravery. Pitt gives this performance his all, not missing a nuance of Bishopís layered personality. Since Pittís abilities always seem to show themselves in spurts, his performances that came between not only this film, but movies like Fight Club, and Interview with the Vampire are forgettable. If Pitt ever stabilizes into the performer he is capable of being, (as is amply demonstrated here) he will truly be an acting force to be reckoned with.

Spy Game. All Rights Reserved.Robert Redford (The Sting, The Last Castle) is marvellous all the time, in the role of Nathan Muir, the soon-to-be retired CIA agent, who discovers that though he may have sincerely wanted not to care about any of the agents he trained, Bishop slipped far enough under the armour to make him worth fighting for. As Muir, Redford is calculating and manipulative over a core of warmth. Redfordís most divine moments in this movie come when he gets a shot at using (what I suspect is closer to Redford himself) his acrimonious sense of humour.  Muir uses the arrogance of the younger agents in positions of power to try to reach his pupil gone astray, and the audience members cheer for him while chuckling to themselves at the same time.  Redford does a skilful job of outshining everyone around him, while meshing flawlessly with every cast member he appears on screen with.

One thing that really does stick with you after watching Spy Game is how tastefully itís done. This movie had the potential to be INCREDIBLY violent with scenes featuring everything for interrogations in the prison, to gunfights along the streets of Beirut. Instead of showing you the easier road of splatter, director Tony Scott elects to pursue the more difficult path, leaving your imagination to fill in the blanks of what Scott has elected not to display.

Every detail of Spy Game has been meticulously thought out, the settings are brutally gorgeous, the atmosphere in every shot amazing. This is an obvious production of intricate planning. The performances are superb, the directing on a tightness level with The Insider. Spy Game is an excellent, well crafted movie that I would strongly recommend to anyone (especially fans of Sundance).

Jen Johnston
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