Spy Game
dir. Scott
Opens Fri Nov 23
Various Theaters

So when you make a movie about the inner workings of the CIA, you figure its gotta be an uphill battle--'cause nobody likes the CIA, right? But in Spy Game, director Tony Scott (Enemy of the State, Crimson Tide, and--woo-hoo!--Top Gun) tries to make at least portions of the CIA likeable, by constructing a story of two agents who believe in the ideals of loyalty, trust, and serving the greater good.

Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) is a retiring CIA operative who uses his last day on the job to rescue his protégé, Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), who, according to reports, has gone "rogue" and wound up in a Chinese prison booked on espionage.

Much of the story takes place in a CIA situation room, where Muir explains that he brought Bishop up through the ranks (told in flashbacks), while trying to figure out if his bosses are going to rescue him, or let him be executed. When Muir learns the CIA is taking the latter route, he must use all his past training to trick his young whipper-snapper bosses into saving Bishop, and prove to the world he isn't just another old fart whose time would be better spent wasting away in a nursing home, sitting in his own excrement.

Now, Brad Pitt is fine in the role (as he normally is), and so is Redford (although he looks suspiciously like one of those old men in the balcony on The Muppet Show). But as stated earlier, this is a movie about trust, and it's pretty damn clear that director Scott doesn't trust his script. With Crimson Tide, he obviously had a great script, so he just put the camera in place and let it roll. In Spy Game, a scene rarely goes by without Scott swooping the camera by way of crane, dolly, or helicopter.

Unfortunately for the audience, there is an interesting story here--not thrilling, just interesting--but much like the CIA in question, without trust, and believing in what one is working toward, there's not much point in doing it at all.