Spy Game

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(2001) ★★★½

Sky 1: Saturday 22 August, 9pm

On his last day at Langley, retiring CIA operative Robert Redford is summoned to account for the rogue activities of former field agent Brad Pitt, due to be executed for espionage in China. Redford has a few tricks up his sleeve as he recounts the recruitment and training of his protégé to a group of unsympathetic CIA executives who seem quite prepared to let Pitt die. Dark deceits and fuzzy idealism merge in a cynical secrets-and-lies thriller directed in impressively slick Enemy of the State-style by Tony Scott. Taking his cue from Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, Scott gives a colour-coded cinematic identity to each location and time-frame (the story flashes back and forth from 1991 to 1975). Pitt’s character passes as the idealist. He learned to shoot in the Boy Scouts, accounting for his helping-hand mentality and his naivety when dealing with ‘assets’ (civilians who can be useful to the agency). Redford is the ruthless pragmatist. He might yearn for the days when you knew the good guys from the bad, but one thing will never change: his side is always the good guys. There’s no honour among thieves and, it seems, there’s no sentiment among spies. “If it’s down to you or them,” says Redford, “send flowers.” From Berlin to Beirut, from Hong Kong to Hanoi, they play their meddlesome games and they ride off into the sunset. It’s not quite as good as Three Days of the Condor, Sneakers or The Sting, but you can see what attracted Redford to the movie.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 121min

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Other Showings Time & Date
Sky 1 Tuesday, 25 August at 9:00PM
Sky Movies Crime/Thriller Friday, 28 August at 11:40AM
Sky Movies Crime/Thriller Friday, 28 August at 6:50PM