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Spy Game - Brad Pitt as Tom Bishop




A thinking person's thriller, Spy Game employs dense plotting without sacrificing the kinetic momentum that is director Tony Scott's trademark. The film has the byzantine scope of a novel, focusing on veteran CIA operative Nathan Muir (Robert Redford), whose protégé Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) is scheduled for execution in a Chinese prison. It's Muir's last day before retiring (cliché alert!), and Bishop is being deliberately sacrificed by oily CIA officials to ensure healthy trade with China. Muir has 24 hours to rescue Bishop and his perfunctory love interest (Catherine McCormack), and Spy Game connects the mentor's end-run strategy to flashbacks of his student's exploits in Berlin, Beirut, and beyond. Ambitious but emotionally bland--and not as exciting as Scott's Enemy of the State--Spy Game offers pass-the-torch humor between leather-faced Redford and pretty boy Pitt, and although their dialogue is occasionally limp, the movie compensates with efficient style and substance. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.




Movie Review:

Spy Game is a 2001 movie, directed by Tony Scott, and starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.

The movie has excellent background music (especially during Brad Pitt's training) and state-of-the-art cinematography (a staple of Tony Scott's films). Unlike a typical spy movie, the movie is very cerebral and has almost no action sequences. For example, there are no high speed car chases, no high tech spy gadgets, no sexual jokes and no glamorous settings. The movie actually tries to depict somewhat more realistically than an average spy genre movie, what a real spy's life must be like and how unpleasant, unglamorous and diffcult and frustrating it really can be at times. In most spy movies, the spy is shown as someone who is always in control of the situation and comes out shooting with guns in both hands, in any situation. However, this movie shows how far that may be from the truth in real life spying situations.

Plot details

Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), who says he is a native of Hemet, California, is a field-op with the CIA. He has been captured in China and is being tortured, after failing in his mission to rescue his British-born girlfriend from inside a Chinese prison, disguised as a doctor who has come to innoculate the prisoners against cholera. She was a social worker in Beirut and is also an ex-terrorist who blew up a Chinese-owned building in London which killed several people, including the Chinese Premier's nephew. Tom Bishop has been scheduled for execution by the Chinese within 24 hours, unless the CIA admits that Tom is their operative and was sent by them to China on a mission. The CIA is unwilling to take responsibility for Tom because they did not send him on any mission - Tom Bishop was acting alone in his attempt to free his girfriend from the Chinese.

Even though Tom has been trained extensively in trade craft by his CIA recruiter, Nathan Muir (Robert Redford), he is not a full-fledged member of the CIA but instead is an operative who is used by Nathan from time to time for individual missions. The CIA is looking for a reason to let Tom die at the hands of the Chinese, since it would be very embarassing for the U.S. Government to admit that they had sent a spy to China, a mere week before the American President is scheduled to visit China on a trip focusing on U.S.-China trade relations. However, they realize that almost no one in the CIA seems to know much about who Tom or his background are. They then decide to contact his recruiter, Nathan Muir, to see if he can provide them with any explanation of why Tom was doing what he was doing in China but more importantly if Nathan can provide them with the smoking gun to burn Tom with. It is Muir's last day with the Agency, and he is retiring.

Nathan likes Tom a lot and tries his best to save his life. He covertly calls a journalist in Hong Kong and asks him to leak the story that a CIA operative has been captured in China. He does this so that the CIA cannot tell the Chinese that Tom is not linked to them. The story airs on CNN shortly, however, the CIA team taking care of the Tom problem, calls the FCC which (presumably) threatens CNN which causes a retraction to occur in which the reporter calls the earlier report of an American spy being captured on Chinese soil a hoax. He also says that Tom Bishop has been dead for over a year, which is untrue as well.

At this point, Nathan secretly creates an urgent operational directive from the CIA Director, forging the Director's signature (from a certificate of merit that Nathan had received from him that very day) on an order to commence Operation Dinner Out: a daring rescue mission by the U.S. Marines. Using his life's savings of $282,000 which he had been saving to retire on an island in the Bahamas, Nathan funds the bribery of Chinese officials to cut the power of the prison and its surrounding areas for thirty minutes, during which time an American rescue team on helicopters is sent in to break out Tom Bishop and his girlfriend from the Chinese prison.

The operation is a success and Nathan has succeeded in pulling this off right under the noses of the CIA. Tom Bishop and his girlfriend are airlifted to safety. While on their way inside the helicopter, Tom hears the Pilot radio in the success of the mission calling it Operation Dinner Out. When Tom hears the words Operation Dinner Out, he knows that it was Nathan who was responsible for this unbelievable rescue. He knows this because when in Beirut on a mission, where Tom had met his girlfriend, he had told Nathan that he running a smuggling scam through embassy diplomatic bags which he calls Operation Dinner Out. In the last scene, Nathan is shown leaving the CIA headquarters building for the last time in his classic Porsche 911 smiling to himself, as a phone call informs his former bosses that there has been an "incident" in China.
Spoilers end here.

Cast and roles include

* Robert Redford - Nathan D. Muir
* Brad Pitt - Tom Bishop
* Catherine McCormack - Elizabeth Hadley
* Stephen Dillane - Charles Harker
* Larry Bryggman - Troy Folger
* Marianne Jean-Baptiste - Gladys Jennip
* Matthew Marsh - Dr. William Byars
* Todd Boyce - Robert Aiken
* Michael Paul Chan - Vincent Vy Ngo
* Garrick Hagon - CIA Director Cy Wilson
* Andrew Grainger - Andrew Unger
* Bill Buell - Fred Kappler
* Colin Stinton - Henry Pollard
* Ted Maynard - CIA Administrator
* Tom Hodgkins - CIA Lobby Guard
* Rufus Wright - Folger's Secretary
* Demetri Goritsas - Billy Hyland
* Quinn Collins - OPS Center Security Officer
* Sam Scudder - Back Bencher
* Yann Johnson - CIA Back Bencher
* Pat McGrath - Cleaner
* Shane Rimmer - Estate Agent
* David Hemmings - Harry Duncan
* James Aubrey - Mitch Alford
* In-Sook Chappell - Receptionist
* Benedict Wong - Tran
* Ken Leung - Li
* Adrian Pang - Jiang
* Ho Yi - Prison Warden
* David Cheung - Down's Prisoner
* Tony Xu - Interrogator
* Mark Sung - Ambulance Driver
* David K.S. Tse - Prison Doctor
* Logan Wong - Prison Guard
* Ping Tang Hon - Prison Guard
* Daniel Tse - Warden's Lieutenant
* Vincent Wang - Outer Gate Guard
* Stuart Milligan - Vietnam: Captain
* Joseph Chanet - Vietnam: VC General
* Eddie Yeoh - Gen. Hun Chea
* Freddie Joe Farnsworth - Vietnam: Radioman
* Joerg Stadler - Frederick Schmidt
* Zsolt Zagoni - Berlin: West German Businessman
* Balázs Tardy - Berlin: Vopo No. 1
* Pál Oberfrank - Berlin: Vopo No. 2
* Géza Schramek - Berlin: East German Refugee
* Imre Csuja - Berlin: Bar Owner
* Melinda Völgyi - Berlin: Bar Owner's Wife
* Károly Rékasi - Berlin: East German Border Guard
* Kimberly Paige - Berlin: Sandy, Muir's 2nd Wife
* Iain Smith - Berlin: Ambassador Cathcart
* Gregory Groth - Berlin: CIA Training Instructor
* Peter Linka - Berlin: CIA Polygraph
* Omid Djalili - Beirut: Doumet
* Amidou - Beirut: Dr. Ahmed, the sheik's doctor
* Nabil Massad - Beirut: Sheik Salameh
* Mohamed Picasso - Beirut: Col. Ajami
* Aziz Ait Essahmi - Beirut: Checkpoint Guard
* Moustapha Moulay - Beirut: Arab Businessman
* Mohamed Quatib - Beirut: Motorcyclist/Decoy Man
* Farid Regragui - Beirut: Suicide Van Driver
* Dale Dye - Rescue Sequence: Cmdr. Wiley
* Tim Briggs - Rescue Sequence: Heli Pilot
* Frank Nall - Reporters: CNN Reporter
* Ian Porter - Reporters: US-China Reporter
* Charlotte Rampling - Anna Cathcart

Filming locations include

* HSBC Hong Kong headquarters building, presented as the American embassy (note that there is actually a U.S. consulate general, but no embassy in Hong Kong). See Hong Kong in films.
* Budapest, Hungary, shown as Cold War Berlin in the film. The movie was shot here because Berlin has modernized a lot since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
* Israel and Morocco became 1980s Beirut in the film. The crew started off in Israel, but had to shift to Morocco because of the PLO-led Intifada which broke out in late 2000.