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Spy Game (2001)

 

Starring: Robert Redford, Brad Pitt
Director: Tony Scott

Rating: R

Review Posted: 7.01.02

 

By John Teves

 

The Movie

 

The year is 1991 and veteran CIA officer Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) is a day away from retiring when he learns that his one time protégé Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) is in deep trouble. Detained in a foreign prison on a charge of espionage, Bishop has gone rogue and is scheduled to die in 24 hours. Fearing an international incident, the CIA decides it's too great a risk to try and save him. It’s up to Muir to battle the system inside the CIA to save his friend. The clock is ticking and the race is on.

 

Spy Game was a clever film. This film was comparable to reading a Tom Clancy novel featuring some gritty action scenes and a lot of espionage. Redford had a strong presence as the canny mentor, and Pitt presented a standing performance, as the agent who feels for the community he is manipulating.

 

Spy Game does not have a deceptive ending nor does it try to fool anyone by pretending to be something its not; which should have been the case considering the breed of film. The movie is slow at times especially during the flashback scenes, but this is appropriate for the film and character development. Redford and Pitt do a remarkable job, but the film fell short when it focused single-handedly on the character aspect of the film. A more balanced prescription might have done the trick to improve on Spy Game to the level it could have been.

 

>Read Dan Scully's Film Review!

>Read Craig Younkin's Film Review!

 

The Video

 

Spy Game appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions.

 

Sharpness was consistently excellent, with virtually no instances of softness. I thought I noticed some jagged edges but not enough to merit a significant problem. The print itself appears clean; I encountered very few examples of any speckles or grain. Colors are vivid and flawless, with no signs of distortion or noise. Black levels were deep and dark, and shadow detail looks appropriately dusky but not overly thick. Spy Game offered a very pleasing viewing experience.

 

The Audio

 

Spy Game is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS; the two possessed more similarities than differences; both the DTS and DD5.1 mix had a deep and tight bass response; mixes were distinct and clean. Spy Games offered an active and involving audio track for both versions.

 

All five channels get a terrific workout throughout the film; effects blasted from all directions during much of the film; sounds blended together smoothly to create a neatly circuited environment. Audio quality was righteous; the score sounded clear and dynamic, with good bass response. Dialog remained clear throughout the film.

 

If I were to pick an audio track I would fancy the DTS track, because it seemed to have a bit more bass authority and a slight extremity to its pitch.

 

The Extras

 

Extras:

 

• Commentary by director Tony Scott

• Commentary with Producers
• Production notes
• Deleted Scenes with Director's Commentary
• Behind-the-Scenes in the filmmaking process
• Interactive Script-to-Storyboard process featuring the Director
• Requirements for CIA acceptance

 

Overall

 

Universal created a satisfying package with the DVD release of Spy Game; picture and sound are pretty solid. Should you rent it or buy it? I would strongly recommend a rental at first for it may not appeal to all viewers. If you liked the movie, then indubitably it’s a no-brainer; Spy Game makes for a very exciting and fairly thrilling action film. Highly recommended.

 

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