|Directed by||Tony Scott|
|Story by||Michael Frost Beckner|
|Edited by||Christian Wagner|
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Box office||$143 million|
Spy Game is a 2001 American action thriller film directed by Tony Scott and starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. The film grossed $62 million in the United States and $143 million worldwide on a $115 million budget, and received mostly positive reviews from film critics.
In 1991, the United States and China are close to a major trade agreement, with the President due to visit China to seal the deal. The CIA learns that its asset Tom Bishop has been arrested at a People's Liberation Army prison in Suzhou and will be executed in 24 hours, unless the US government claims him and bargains for his release. Bishop's actions, unsanctioned by the CIA, risk jeopardizing the agreement.
A group of CIA executives summon Nathan Muir, a veteran case officer and Bishop's mentor, who plans to retire from the agency at the end of the day. While purportedly interviewing Muir to learn his history with Bishop, the executives seek a pretext for not intervening on Bishop's imprisonment. Unknown to them, Muir was tipped off about Bishop's capture by a fellow CIA veteran Harry Duncan in Hong Kong.
Muir leaks the story to CNN through an MI6 contact in Hong Kong, believing that public pressure would force American intervention. They are stalled briefly before a phone call to the FCC from CIA Deputy Director Charles Harker results in CNN retracting the story as a hoax.
Muir met Bishop in 1975, when Bishop was a Marine Scout Sniper during the Vietnam War. Muir gives Bishop a mission to eliminate a high-ranking North Vietnamese military officer. Bishop and his spotter Tran are able to assassinate the target despite being compromised, though Bishop takes out a pursuing enemy attack chopper. Bishop escorts the now wounded Tran to safety, impressing Muir. In 1976, Muir recruited Bishop as a CIA asset in Berlin, where Bishop was tasked with procuring assets in East Germany. Then he discusses Bishop's spy work in Beirut in 1985, during the War of the Camps, which was their last mission together.
In a series of flashbacks, Bishop is troubled by Muir's conviction that civilian "assets" who endangered a mission should be sacrificed to preserve the "greater good." After Bishop attempts to countermand Muir during a mission to save the life of an asset, Muir emphasizes that he will not tolerate dissent, and would not rescue Bishop if he was captured going "off the reservation".
During a mission in Lebanon, Bishop, posing as a photojournalist, meets relief worker Elizabeth Hadley. While using her to connect with an asset for the mission, they became romantically involved. Muir distrusts Hadley, and reveals to Bishop that she was exiled from the U.K.. Hadley later confesses to Bishop that she was involved in the bombing of a Chinese building in Britain, which was supposed to be empty but contained Chinese nationals. Bishop reveals to Hadley his true identity.
Muir elects again to sacrifice a civilian asset for the sake of their mission, and Bishop cuts professional ties with Muir. Muir, fearing that Hadley could threaten the Agency and potentially Bishop, makes a deal with the Chinese, exchanging Hadley in return for an arrested US diplomat. Chinese agents kidnap Hadley, and a Dear John letter is forged and left for Bishop.
In the present, Muir realizes that Bishop went to China for Hadley. In a series of misdirections, he forges a directive signed by the CIA director to begin "Operation Dinner Out", a rescue mission spearheaded by a SEAL team that Bishop had developed as a "Plan B" for his own attempt at rescuing Hadley. Using $282,000 of his life savings and a misappropriated file on Chinese coastline satellite imagery, Muir enlists Duncan to assist him in bribing a Chinese energy official to cut power to the prison for 30 minutes, during which time the SEAL rescue team will retrieve Bishop and Hadley.
Harker is suspicious that Muir is working against the CIA, but when he confronts Muir before the gathered executives, Muir "confesses" to unprofessionally using company resources to gather information about his intended retirement home, which he has distorted the evidence to support.
Bishop is rescued along with Hadley, and surmises that Muir was responsible for saving him when he hears the pilot refer to Operation Dinner Out, which was also the code name for an operation Bishop used to get a birthday gift for Muir while they were in Lebanon. When the CIA officials are belatedly informed of the rescue, Muir has already left the building and is seen driving safely off into the countryside.
- Robert Redford as CIA Case Officer Nathan D. Muir
- Brad Pitt as CIA Agent Tom Bishop
- Catherine McCormack as Elizabeth Hadley
- Stephen Dillane as CIA Operations Officer Chuck Harker
- Larry Bryggman as CIA Deputy Director Troy Folger
- Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Gladys Jennip, Muir's Secretary
- Ken Leung as CIA Agent Li
- David Hemmings as CIA Case Officer Harry Duncan
- Michael Paul Chan as CIA Agent Vincent Vy Ngo
- Garrick Hagon as CIA Director Cy Wilson
- Todd Boyce as CIA Agent Robert Aiken
- Matthew Marsh as Dr. William Byars
- Andrew Grainger as CIA Agent Andrew Unger
- Shane Rimmer as The Estate Agent
- Ho Yi as The Prison Warden
- Benedict Wong as CIA Agent Tran
- Adrian Pang as CIA Agent Jiang
- Omid Djalili as CIA Agent Doumet
- Dale Dye as Commander Wiley, USN SEAL
- Demetri Goritsas as CIA Agent Billy Hyland
- Charlotte Rampling as Anne Cathcart
- Matthew Walker as MI6 Agent Digby 'Digger' Gibson
- James Aubrey as CIA Agent Mitch Alford
- Colin Stinton as CIA Agent Henry Pollard
- Amidou as Dr. Ahmed
- Andrea Osvárt as Muir's Cousin In Berlin
The film was made in Morocco between November 5, 2000, to March 19, 2001, and was originally to be directed by Mike Van Diem. Pitt passed on playing the title role in The Bourne Identity for this project. It made its worldwide premiere at the Mann National Theatre on November 19, 2001.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie an approval rating of 66% based on 133 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "The outcome of the kinetic Spy Game is never in doubt, but it is fun watching Robert Redford and Brad Pitt work." Metacritic gave the film a score of 63 out of 100 based upon reviews by 29 critics. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four and said, "It is not a bad movie, mind you; it's clever and shows great control of craft, but it doesn't care, and so it's hard for us to care about."
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2018)
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- "Spy Game (2001)". British Film Institute (BFI).
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- "DAMON IN LINE TO PLAY BOURNE": [Broward Metro Edition] Reuters. Sun Sentinel; Fort Lauderdale [Fort Lauderdale] 30 June 2000: 17.
- "Universal Pictures Celebrates World Premiere of 'Spy Game' - Update". PR Newswire. November 13, 2001. Archived from the original on November 24, 2001. Retrieved June 26, 2019 – via Yahoo! Finance.
- Rivero, Enrique (February 20, 2002). "UPDATE: Spy Game DVD Features Clandestine OPS". hive4media.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2002. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "Weekend Box Office: November 23-25, 2001". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- "Spy Game (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
- "Spy Game Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
- Ebert, Roger (November 27, 2001). "Spy Game". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
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