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Movie Review: Spy Game

Story: I deliberately chose this film because I wanted something easy on the mind (I love spy thrillers) and the eye (Robert Redford and Brad Pitt). Thankfully (a good word pick for today - oh, and by the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you)! I was not disappointed. The story takes place in just one day in 1991 but through flashbacks covering 20 years we uncover the back story. A retiring CIA operative discovers on his last day on the job that his protege has been imprisoned in China and will be executed in 24 hours on charges of espionage. Our Government, he learns, intends to do nothing to help this captured operative ... but not our hero! It turns out our hero is from the old school of the CIA - and we are off and running.

Directed by Tony Scott (Enemy of the State) and written by Michael Frost Beckner and David Arata, this fast paced, smart (it will add to your enjoyment of the film if you know a bit about the last 30 years of world history) is for adults.

I wondered as I watched the many films' locales just where this movie was actually shot. Reading the end credits (I always do) is very informative. It seems that both the Vietnamese and Beirut locales were shot in Morocco. The East and West Berlin scenes filmed in Budapest, Hungary and the Chinese scenes filmed in Oxford England. And lastly, the interior shots of the CIA headquarters were filmed in the Shepperton Studios in London. Does this mean we all look alike?

Another clever, but not original effect was the use of different lens filters for the various locations to give each time period and back story a different hue. It was used effectively in last year's Traffic and in this film. Go see this film and use your brain.

Acting: Robert Redford is always fun to watch (and no, I don't care if he got old and a bit wrinkled-we all get old). He just makes everything look so easy and he is really a fine hero. His chemistry with Brad Pitt works very well. That father-son thing works well for them. Redford has all of the good lines but it sure is nice to just watch Pitt.

Critters: I saw one cat in a cameo role in the Beirut locale.

Food: Lots of coffee and 12 year old scotch. Operatives have no time to eat.

Visual Art: The CIA headquarters has lots of war memorabilia on the walls.

Blatant Product Placement: Coca Cola

Soundtrack: A mix of tunes from the 70's to the early 90's.

Opening Titles: Unimpressive.

Theater Audience: A sparse crowd - everyone was eating popcorn.

Squirm Scale: I have always enjoyed the pyrotechnics and special effects in movies. It enhances the fantasy of film. But it seems that my psyche has changed since September 11th. There is one scene with a suicide car bomber in Beirut that I found very disturbing. I had a very real physical reaction and discovered tears streaming down my face. I don't know how long these feelings will last but for right now they are strong and very upsetting.

Predictability Level: High, but I did not care.

Tissue Usage: 0 (my tears really did not have anything to do with the story so it doesn't count).

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: I HATE that circling camera that is used so often these days. It makes me dizzy.

Big Screen or Rental: It would be just as effective as a rental. You could have a Robert Redford spy rental weekend with Three Days of the Condor and Sneakers. You could also add my favorite Redford films, The Natural and All the President's Men. He could be his own category at Blockbuster.

Length: two hours.