Spy Game Movie Review
Young and old meet in the old-style espionage film Spy Game. Robert Redford, who's cracks and wrinkles can easily represent his character's experience, and Brad Pitt, who still looks as young as ever, combine their powers in hopes of making this CIA film one to remember.
It does not quite reach the level they were aiming for. The fingers touch the ladder rung, but every time they do, they just slip off. That's how I felt when watching Spy Game; it is so close to being something great but lacks a few essential parts to keep it and mildly entertaining.
Spy Game rings in a little under my expectations, and that may be due to the storyline. I was expecting more espionage, a few more twists, and more suspenseful moments, but the movie is purposely not like that. As if trying to stay away from the generic formula, Spy Game integrates a more personal approach into the CIA plotline, which has its ups and downs. The movie is told through a series of flashbacks, but Redford spends a good deal of time in CIA headquarters, on the last day before retirement, talking with his superiors about the captured Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) and secretly figuring out a way to rescue him. Spy Game tells several stories at the same time, that of Bishop's rise in the CIA world, Redford's attempts to rescue him while constrained to an office building in the United States, and Bishop's mission in a foreign country, where he meets the love of his life. Somehow, I expected the movie to tie everything together a little more, such as an assassination attempt or something, but instead it is the two characters that tie several different stories together. I was disappointed that Bishop was essentially captured over a woman he is in love with, instead of something "more important."
Spy Game has great acting from all parties. Redford has a stronger presence than Pitt as the all-knowing mentor, and as he tries to figure out what is going on in the CIA concerning his agent, and how to free him, we really get to see all sides of his character. He is calm and laid back, but at the same time is smart, cunning, and a little ruthless. In the flashbacks, you get to see a darker side of him where "the lesser of two evils" comes into play. As for Pitt, he has the stand-out performance, since he gets to show off his emotions much more. Redford is suave and fearless, where Pitt feels for the people he is manipulating (as seen with the very powerful plotline involving the doctor).
Again, the thing that really hurts Spy Game is the unexpected way it tells its stories. It was trying to be something more than just another spy film, but I think I would have liked it more had all of the plots been tied together to signify something more important in the climax than just a man's life. The film has its suspenseful moments, but suspense is not the name of the game, really. Spy Game isn't trying to fool anyone by pretending to be something its not, but maybe it should have been something its not, because I was a little bored at parts. The movie is a little slow here and there, especially since a lot of scenes do not have relevance in the overall story (but relevance in character development).
Redford and Pitt do great jobs, but their performances may be dampened by a less-than-thrilling story that focused more on character than plot. Character is important, but a more balanced formula might have done the trick to excel Spy Game to the level it wants to be at.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.