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Starring: Robert Redford and Brad Pitt
Director: Tony Scott
Rated: M15+

THE end of the Cold War was good news for the security of the world and a dreadful business for novelists.

North Africa and the Middle East have been too sensitive and Asia too unknown to entice Hollywood back into a big budget spy film. Enter Spy Game.

It’s 1991 and Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) is about to begin his last day working for the CIA (now that’s an old trick) when he gets a phone call from Hong Kong telling him that his star recruit and spying protege Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) has been imprisoned in China for espionage.

The US Government has 24 hours to claim Bishop and force the Chinese to hand him over or he will be executed. The maverick Bishop, however, was not on official undercover business and the CIA needs Muir to help them work out what Bishop was up to. Bishop needs Muir to save him from death.

In the best traditions of Hollywood espionage films, Spy Game is a big budget production.

Set in Vietnam, Virginia, Berlin, China and Beirut, we tour the world piecing together the history of Muir and Bishop’s relationship and why Bishop is presently being bashed in a Chinese jail.

Not that the film crew went to these exotic locations. They went to other exotic places and re-created the ones they wanted. It is amazing to see how the art director and his team can use Vancouver, Morocco, Budapest and Oxford as stand-ins. Anyone interested in set design and decoration will be impressed with this film.

Director Tony Scott is best known for Top Gun, Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State. Spy Game combines elements of all these films.

Like most spy stories there are gaps galore in the tale. It’s hard to believe that the CIA’s internal security is as easy to spoil as the retiring Nathan Muir makes it look.

There are acts of simulated violence that will offend some viewers, but if you have missed the undercover moles doing their stuff for love or freedom, then Spy Game should bring you out of hiding.

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