Spy Game

Robert Redford plays a CIA officer on the edge of retirement in 1991 who sets out to free a former protege (Brad Pitt) from prison in China, where he’s being detained as a spy. The reasonably entertaining spy-versus-spy shenanigans are partially undercut by the hypocritical pretense that the CIA and its various forms of mischief are somehow being ridiculed. Yet the CIA-caused casualties, mainly non-American, count for next to nothing alongside the noble efforts of a sly American father figure to save his handsome American surrogate son; the rest of the world can go blow itself up for all the filmmakers care. To cover up the shallowness, director Tony Scott gives us a whirlwind of gratuitous camera movement and staccato freeze-frames to furnish us with a semblance of stylishness (as opposed to style). The script by Michael Frost Beckner and David Arata seems to depend mainly on distant memories of Le Carre and Greene; Catherine McCormack costars as the putative love interest, but the real romance, of course, is between the boy leads. 127 min. (JR)

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