Toon’s Review: Spy Game – 7.5/10

An old school gem of a spy flick with an intense soundtrack and brilliant chemistry between Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.


Many people underestimate how important the soundtrack of a movie is, in my opinion it is equally as important as the vision of the film. Actors and images can portray the most dramatic of moments, but the intensity of any given moment is only captured through its acoustic presentation. The music and sound is the atmosphere and the mood of the film, without it being perfectly executed I am sure that half of the greatest cinematic moments in recent times are stagnant images. I need to point you no further than reminiscing sweeping landscapes and warzones from Lord of the Rings supported by that epic theme composed by Howard Shore, or the countless moments in The Matrix where Neo’s suave demeanour is sustained by heart thumping bass and guitar riffs from Rob Dougan. The music is half the movie, no exceptions.

So I come to Spy Game, a movie starring the ageless Robert Redford and his soon to be protégé Brad Bitt. Without giving much away, the story revolves around a C.I.A. veteran Nathan Muir (Robert Redford). On the verge of his retirement, he is tipped off that a former friend and apprentice Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) was captured in a Chinese prison on a mission not sanctioned by the agency. Realising this, Muir’s superiors set out to disown and burn Bishop fearing his personal espionage mission would damage Chinese and American trade relations.

Vietnam flashbacks.

Vietnam flashbacks.

Behind this relatively simplistic story lies such a well executed film that cuts beautifully in to flashbacks to Vietnam where Muir first recruited Bishop, through shadowy scenes in Easy Germany and a devastated warzone in Lebanon. Through the course of the film we see the master and apprentice relationship develop between the two and the natural personality clashes that divide our two lead characters. The kinetic scenes of switching in and out of flashbacks, the spy games in the streets of East Germany to the guerrilla warzone in Lebanon, such variety was very well delivered by the director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Man on Fire, Enemy of the State). His pacing of the movie is rather painful though; it is a two hour movie that feels considerably longer. The redeeming icing on the cake was the soundtrack. Just phenomenal, the sextacular guitar riffs that accompanied Muir’s pragmatic scenes around Langley, to the retarded intensity of the Arabic voiceover and orchestra in the culmination of the Lebanon scenes! Just brilliant, as the movie ended with… never mind. I just know that every time I finished watching this movie, I was bobbing my head to the Nathan Muir soundtrack. Bad ass I tell you, pure bad ass.

Robert Redford.

Robert Redford.

There is something about Redford, something that numerous male actors in their 50’s and 60’s try to emulate. A presence, a complete debonair demeanour that needs no effort to apply, but a life time of experience to achieve. Robert Redford is a phenomenal actor, a man before my generation and since I expect the majority of my audience to be of my kinship, allow me to put it in to perspective. He is the Brad Pitt of the 80’s and 90’s… and it was fantastic watching the two of them on screen together in a relatively strong master and apprentice type of story. This movie was thoroughly entertaining, surprisingly intelligent and just pure goodness in a way that only old school movies were. They just do not make them like this anymore.


credit to for the images


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