Skip to main content

Spy Game | Average Guy Movie Review | Movierob's Genre Grandeur


For this month's Genre Grandeur on Spy/Espionage movies I have chosen Spy Game. Directed by Tony Scott and starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt, this is a gritty, more realistic spy movie. It's the polar opposite of a James Bond movie. There's no glamour, no gadgets and the type of locations that would make Jason Bourne think twice! 


It's 1991, the US and China are working on a trade deal and CIA Agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) has just been caught trying to break someone out of a Chinese Prison. The US Government has just 24 hours to claim him before he is executed. In order to get a handle on the situation, CIA executives bring in Nathan Muir (Robert Redford), Bishop's former boss and mentor to provide deep background on him. But Muir soon realises that the executives are looking for a pretext to justify leaving Bishop to the Chinese. Now he must he call in every asset he has and every favour he's owed in order to save Bishop's life.


After a tense opening, the story plays out in flashbacks as Muir provides highlights of his work with Bishop in Vietnam, Germany and Lebanon. Redford - who described Spy Game as "a thinking man's action film" - is perfect as the veteran intelligence agent, he and Pitt work well together. Pitt is also on top form as the talented yet arrogant agent who sometimes struggles with the morality of their work. Despite being about rescuing Bishop, the major focus of the story is on Redford's character. It's great fun watching Muir use every trick he knows to keep the executives on the hook while he covertly does everything he can to save Bishop. Tony Scott described the conference room scenes as like a "poker game", calling them the "most challenging part of the shoot".


Filming of the Vietnam and Lebanon scenes took place in Morocco, the Lebanon scenes were to be filmed in Israel but this was changed when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalated in 2000. Budapest acted as the stand-in for Berlin, while other locations - bar some establishing shots - were all filmed in and around London. A lot of work was done to recreate these periods in history and to differentiate between them. Such as heightening the colours in the Lebanon segment, this was done so the footage would resemble 1980's news clips whereas the colours were de-saturated to achieve a "strange sepia green" look for the Vietnam segment. I find it strange that despite all this work on the look of a movie set over a 16-year period, the filmmakers forgot to age the characters. In fact the only thing that does seem to change is Pitt's hair, which he described as looking like a "Don Johnson mullet".


Setting the story during the cold war - and in places the US are known to have been active - helps to ground the story in reality. As I said this is far from the world of James Bond. In reality, most of us know very little about what those in the intelligence services do, according to Redford's character "most of the time all you need is a stick of gum, a pocket knife and a smile." But I'd say most of what happens in Spy Game is believable, and I think this is what makes it so appealing. It's a glimpse into a world we will never know...apart from what the history books tell us anyway. 


Spy Game is a tense and engaging espionage thriller from start to finish. Tony Scott cleverly uses a fast paced plot throughout in order to maintain the tension. That and shots of Bishop in peril injected into certain scenes only help to remind us of the pressure Muir is under to save him. If you like spy movies, are looking for something a bit different to James Bond, or just like movies that have a gritty and realistic feel, you can't go far wrong with Spy Game.
9/10

Don't forget to check out the other reviews in this month's Genre Grandeur. I have also submitted reviews for Allied and Our Kind of Traitor.



What did you think of Spy Game? Let us know by leaving a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hi, I really like your blog. I think maybe using a moustache rating system would really help this blog take off.

    must dash (no pun intended)

    regards

    ReplyDelete

Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Snyder Cut | Wouldn't Be The First Time a Director Got a Second Chance

It seems that a fairly common occurrence amongst movies tied to Warner Bros. is the magical disappearing/reappearing director. Does that mean there's hope for the Snyder Cut? I certainly hope so!


Ever since Justice League hit cinemas in 2017 - possibly even before - fans have been calling for Zack Snyder's original vision to be released. Snyder famously faced issues regarding the darker tone and longer run times his movies were taking, especially after the negative response to 'Batman v Superman'. This of course led to rewrites of the superhero team-up movie, and certain plotlines established or teased in 'BvS' - including the epic Knightmare scene - being dropped. The director then left the production after the tragic death of his daughter. Joss Whedon was brought in by the studio to finish the movie, this included the completion of post production and some major reshoots, further altering the movie. All of which resulted in a movie that is drastically differen…

Dune | Moustache Trailer Reaction

Like one of the massive space ships that feature within it, the trailer for Denis Villeneuve's take on 'Dune' has landed... and it's magnificent. If you've not seen it, or you simply want to watch it again, you can check it out below:

Trying to tame Frank Herbert's legendary sci-fi novel, it seems, is a challenge like no other. But if anyone is up to the task, it's a fair bet that it's Denis Villeneuve. The French-Canadian director is no stranger to reviving beloved sci-fi properties; Blade Runner 2049 is a worthy sequel to the original Blade Runner, and an outstanding movie in its own right - the best of 2017 in my opinion. Add to that his previous projects (Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners), and you've got a director with a talent for combining complex narratives, fascinating characters and stunning visuals, in a way that's both gripping and intelligible.


From the moment the trailer begins you can feel the epic scale of what has been created here. Gr…

Moustache Lockdown Streaming Survival Guide Part 6 | Home Before Dark

We're back on Apple TV+ this week, checking out one of Apple's new TV shows: Home Before Dark.



As always you can check out the previous post in our Moustache Lockdown Streaming Survival Guide by clicking here.





Ever since her Dad took her into the newsroom where he works, nine year old Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince) has been fascinated with journalism. So fascinated in fact, that she started her own newspaper - The Magic Hour Chronicle. But when Matthew Lisko (Jim Sturgess) - Hilde's Father - loses his job, the family is forced to move to Matthew's home town of Erie Harbor, a place he hasn't been back to in many years. There, a chance encounter leads Hilde to look into a thirty year cold case, one that involved the murder of a teenage boy and tore the town apart. Could that be the reason why Hilde's Dad left and never came back?




I will admit that when my fiancé and I were checking out the new content available on Apple TV+ (we had just finished watching the availab…