Spy Game

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/11/22

What kind of spy agency lives in a building full of glass walls? Well, that would be the Hollywood CIA in Spy Game. Hey, spy central, maybe some curtains are in order.

Spy Game teams two generations of cute boys, one who looks like a model and another who looks like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies.


Bob Redford’s a spook, but his legendary good looks are more ghastly than ghostly nowadays. Either Bob’s been exfoliating with Brillo or Utah snow freaks have been using his face for the slalom. Get those jowls some fresh powder, stat!

Dispensing with a license to kill in favor of a license to view covert ops through binoculars, Redford is called to the CIA conference room for an inquisition. There, he regales the Company with tales of his adventures in flashback. Just like the two-part Star Trek episode where Captain Pike meets babes on Talos IV in flashback as Spock gets court-martialed. Ah, Spook…Spock…Coincidence? I think not.

Brad Pitt’s in a Chinese prison, and it’s Redford’s last day with the Company. But before he retires, Bob has to review numerous 8X10 B&W glossies of Brad. Oh, and try to spring him before the Chinese kill him.

Brad and Bob do black ops – at least the ops look black through their Ray Bans. Magical flashbacks zip us from one rubble-strewn, war-torn international scene to another, where nobody ever nabs the CIA agents. Even though the world’s two cleanest, prettiest, and whitest guys, Bob and Brad, are always coincidentally strolling through the area. Is this what’s called “hiding in plain sight”? Hey Brad, why not wear something custom-printed: “Agent Redford went to Lebanon, and all I got was this dumb t-shirt.” The only cover these guys are under is the wrapper on People’s Sexiest Man Alive.

We’re back in ‘Nam during the war. Bob’s a lot younger in ‘Nam, thanks to a focus so soft Spy Game appears to be shot in Suede-o-rama. Plus Bob’s sideburns are a lot longer, long enough to take out a Viet Cong in hand-to-hair combat. No wonder Bob keeps them on a leash and walks them twice a day – the sideburns, not the Viet Cong.

spygame_unobtrusive.jpgWe meet Bob’s “second wife” – she’s half his age and twice his skin tone. We meet Catherine McCormack, an aid worker Brad recruits as an “asset” only to discover the root of “asset” is “ass.” But is he playing her or is she playing him? Meanwhile, who’s playing that God-awful Middle Eastern musical wailing? Make it stop! Please!

If you expect Bob and Brad to spend oodles of screen time together, expect to be disappointed. Redford pops in out of the blue every so often like Obi Wan Kenobi’s ghost to keep Brad on the straight and narrow. This is no job for Robert Redford, it’s a job for a tape that self-destructs in five seconds.

Spy Game is noisily time-stamped. You’re watching when all of a sudden… BANG – time-stamp. Hey filmmakers, I’m watching a movie not entering a parking garage. Give it a rest!

Spy Game is fun if it’s been a few movies since you’ve seen a car barrel into a Middle Eastern fish cart. How Middle Eastern fish carts keep getting in the way of fast moving Hollywood vehicles, I’ll never know.

Otherwise, don’t buy the hype. Spy Game has blockbuster written all over it.

The rental kind, not the box office kind.

Photos Copyright ©2001 Universal Pictures


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