Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Bargain Basement
Music DVD
Send Us Mail
Contact Us


Universal Studios
Official Site
Director: Tony Scott
Producers: Douglas Wick and Marc Abraham
Written by: Michael Frost Beckner
Cast: Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane, Larry Bryggman and Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Rating: out of 5

In a concoction of filters, time frames, continents, and technical effects, SPY GAME is a mirage of ideas wrapped into one two-hour highly charged Tony Scott special. Sometimes though, complicated mixtures can lose their effect and taste like a blur.

The first scene is damn engaging. We find ourselves in 1991 Su Chou, China, in a bizarre, mysterious part that smells dirty and feels harsh. We meet Tom Bishop (Pitt) as he partakes in what seems to be a mission to save a mysterious someone in what we soon find out is a prison. In the midst of his escape the surging hero is caught and trapped. Cut to Washington D.C., where Nathan Muir (Redford) is waking up to a phone call from a friend in Hong Kong who just informed him that Bishop has been caught and has 24 hours to live before his execution. It just so happens that this was to be Muir’s last day at the CIA before his retirement. So Muir goes to work and is greeted by an invitation from his superiors to join them as they discuss the Bishop case.

Muir briefs them on Bishop. Through a flashback, we learn that they met in Vietnam. It was 1975 and Muir was sent in to prepare Bishop for a Viet Cong leader assassination he was assigned to. Muir is impressed by the youngster’s marksmanship and his uncanny resilience in the face of animosity. He takes Bishop under his wing and in a subsequent flash back, we see how Muir begins to guide Bishop into becoming a blossoming CIA spy.

From here we sky rocket through a sequence that shows how good Muir is at teaching and just how talented his protégé is turning out to be. After carousing Eastern Germany, we settle for a longer period in Beirut, Lebanon where Bishop is sent to knock -off an evil sheik. This part was particularly disturbing given our present-day Middle-Eastern relations and a suicide-bombing scene that occurs in the movie;, ironically, this bombing is American-sent. After Beirut, Muir and Bishop part ways and never see one another again. Years later, Muir hears of this new incident.

The glitches in SPY GAME come in the form of lack of character -development, among other things. The audience is never in tune with the reality of this movie, ; it iswe are instead, sitting as a viewers of a world he we never really understands. Muir is able toably puppeteers the destiny of Bishop through a complicated ploy that takes place under the CIA superior’s’ noses, thousands of miles away from where the problem lies. It is never quite clear why the CIA is reluctant to help Bishop or what Muir’s specific role is there at the CIAat the agency is. Nevertheless, he has the ability to speak in James -Bond-like dialogue and move in stealth-like ways.

Tony Scott took great advantage of the montage of technical assets recent films have brought out into public display. For example, he took Steven Soderbergh’s, TRAFFIC-y’s color filter effects and made Beirut a grainy yellowish-brown. He also froze scenes mid-sentence to capture exact times of day and spun the camera around in a MATRIX-like fashion to look at every angle in seemingly not very important scenes.

And yet, SPY GAME moves so fast and carries so much suspense that the common viewer, such as myself, experiences long moments of rapt attention. Who knows, perhaps clarity and character development are overrated?.

—Dalel Serda

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

none now

South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

Rachel Fredrickson

Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo

Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS

hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.