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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - May, 2010

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"Spy Game" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-may-2010-spygame

Synopsis

CIA operative Tom Bishop (Pitt) is captured while trying to rescue a prisoner in a Chinese prison.  His handler Nathan Muir (Redford) is called on the carpet, on the day he’s set to retire after 30 years of service, to justify why a rescue attempt should be made.  Told in a series of flashbacks, the story looks back on the history of their relationship and how the situation escalated to Bishop’s capture.  It quickly becomes apparent that he was operating without authority; “gone rogue.”  Still, Muir wants to save Bishop and in the end he takes some big risks to try and accomplish that.  He eventually has to decide between saving his friend or sticking to his own mantra, “never get involved with an asset.”

 

Specifications

  • Universal Pictures
  • 2001, Color, R, 2 hrs 7 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec:  not specified
  • English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Robert Redford, Brad Pitt and Catherine McCormack
  • Directed by Tony Scott
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence:  Yes
  • Sex:  Implied
  • Language:  Yes

Commentary

I found this film a very worthy member of the spy/thriller genre.  There’s plenty of gritty realism and the story is completely plausible.  Redford and Pitt turn in superb performances (would you expect anything less?).  My only reason for docking one star is the story dragged a bit in the middle.  Watching the development of the handler/operative relationship is fascinating as we see Bishop go from soldier to secret agent.  Despite the fact the Muir uses him relentlessly, they still have a strong bond and great respect for each other.  I don’t want to throw out any spoilers but this movie is completely worth watching for the ending.  I won’t say any more but that this film is highly recommended.

Technical

Image quality runs the gamut from fair to moments of reference quality.  Color is used very effectively.  Flashback scenes are shot with a warm palette and the present day is shown in cooler tones.  Saturation is excellent at all times.  Contrast is superb as well with deep blacks and bright highlights.  I had only two small complaints.  One is “there’s that edge enhancement again.”  To be fair, it’s not used throughout but it is present in most brightly-lit outdoor scenes.  Given the quality of the un-enhanced scenes, the added sharpness is totally unnecessary.  The second thing I noticed is the not the fault of the transfer.  During the meeting room scenes, there moments of softness as if the camera operator couldn’t decide which actor to focus on.  This is minor but noticeable in an otherwise great-looking film.

Audio was bold and dynamic with deep bass and powerful music.  Action scenes had great punch though not quite at the reference level.  Dialog was very clear and forward in the soundstage.  Surrounds were used only sparingly.  The score by composer Harry Gregson-Williams provides a powerful backdrop for the action and I enjoyed it immensely.

Extras

Bonus features include a set of deleted scenes with director commentary and an alternate ending.  There is also an interactive feature where you can access behind-the-scenes material during the movie.  Other documentaries include Requirements for CIA Acceptance and the process of script-to-storyboard.  Finally, there is feature commentary with director Tony Scott and producers Marc Abraham and Douglas Wick.