Directed by Tony Scott
Written by David Arata & Michael Frost Beckner, based on a story by Beckner
Starring Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane, Marianne Jean-Baptiste
My Advice: Matinee.
Nathan Muir (Redford) is a spy, and a damned good one. Welcome to his last day of work at the CIA, where he learns that his former protege, Tom Bishop (Pitt), has gotten busted on a rogue operation over in China. To make matters worse, Bishop has about twenty-four hours for the U.S. government to claim that he's one of theirs or else he gets executed. To make matters even worse, the President is about to go to China in two weeks to talk trade and other political stuff--so nobody really wants to make waves. As Muir relates the story of Bishop's involvement with the Agency, he's also got to figure out a way to help his former student survive his experience. Helluva way to spend your last day at work, huh?
Scott gets points for taking all of the stylized mayhem of Enemy of the State and yet shedding the things that made that prior film lose points. Like its predecessor, this is not a deep film, nor should it have been. It is instead a nice and frenetically paced thriller that holds interest easily. And unlike Enemy, it has a satisfying ending with significantly less of a Velveeta Factor. This is largely due to the writing, which is nice and taught and provides a few twists to keep you wondering what the true shot of the matter is.
Even moreso than the script, the acting is dead-on, and though Pitt does well in a supporting capacity, it really is Redford's show. He works things so smoothly and with such a silver tongue that you honestly do believe the man was a top spy for the government. Other bits that work well are the editing by Christian Wagner and the score by Harry Gregson-Williams. The setting shifts about from CIA headquarters in Langley and a Chinese prison then back in time to Vietnam, Lebanon, and Berlin. It does so smoothly, so you can keep track of where you are and when you are-- because it can be easy to got lost in Flashbackville.
Now, although this could easily be termed as a "guy's flick," it's good for anybody who's up for a little twisting and turning. Because after all, what's a few explosions among friends? Recommended on the big screen for full effect, just save a few bucks and catch it one afternoon.
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