There was a time when CIA operative Nathan Muir and his protÃ©gÃ© Tom Bishop were inseparable, traveling the world and tasting everything it had to offer... from Vietnam to Berlin to Beirut. In a profession fraught with danger and uncertainty, Muir and Bishop forged an uncommonly close friendship based on mutual respect and affection. But that was years ago. Now, on the brink of his retirement from the agency, Muir learns that Bishop has gone rogue. His one-time protÃ©gÃ© has been jailed in Beijing on espionage charges after attempting to break a prisoner out of China. Years of bad blood and hurt feelings are washed away in a flood of memories of adventures shared by the two men as Muir takes on his most dangerous - and personal - mission ever.
Like something advertised in the Sharper Image catalog, Tony Scott's movie is a sleek, expensive-looking gizmo of doubtful utility. Its kinetic editing, exotic locations and general atmosphere of high-stakes espionage can't quite cover up the shallow, cynical emptiness at its heart, but "Spy Game" does offer some fun on its noisy journey to nowhere. Robert Redford plays a C.I.A. maverick on the eve of retirement who uses his interrogation by agency brass as an occasion to reminisce about his star-crossed relationship with Brad Pitt, whose character he recruited as an agent and who now awaits execution in a Chinese prison. Mr. Redford's performance is wry and enigmatic, and recalls several of his movies from the 1970's, when much of this film takes place. There are shades of "The Great Gatsby," "Three Days of the Condor" and, oddly enough, "The Way We Were," but with Mr. Pitt, more or less, in the Barbra Streisand role. – A. O. Scott
2001-11-21 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Spy Game