*** Official "SPY GAME" Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Nov 21, 2001.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "Spy Game". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.
    All HTF member film reviews of "Spy Game" should be posted to this thread.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    Okay, this film is really a fun one to unravel, and bear with me as I spoilerize it because if you haven't seen this film, my spoilers will take away much of the nifty-ness of the film:

    It's my contention that Nathan Muir (Robert Redford's character) totally Keyser Soze'd the CIA big-wigs on his last day at work. The entire operation that he spear-headed was to save his wife, his one and only wife, Elizabeth Hadley. All that stuff about the romance of Hadley and Bishop (Brad Pitt's character) was a total fabrication that Muir made up to keep the CIA boys busy and nipping at his heels for the entire 24 hours. Sure, you can see it as one of those "you never leave a man behind" stories, but remember what Muir told Bishop: "If you stray from the reservation, I won't save your butt." Bishop never did stray from the reservation. Muir just made it sound like he did to get the CIA off the trail.

    Bishop was in China to help out Muir, but got sloppy with the bubble gum. So, if you rewatch this film or think through it again, it's actually quite a neat feat, with a thoroughly enjoyable performance by Redford (who was pretty good in "The Last Castle", but better in "Spy Game"). I'm pretty sure that the next line that was going to come out of that CIA dude when they uncovered that Muir only had one wife was that Hadley was Muir's wife. Else, they would have left the jokes about his ex-wives alone and not mention that Muir really only had one wife.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Patrick,

    I disagree with your account and this is why:

    Why then did Redford have her picked up and sent back to China in the first place if that was his wife. Also, if he did this just to save his wife, why put her in harm's way to begin with.....Furthermore, Larry Bryggman who played the top superior just under the CIA Director Wilson knew Muir from way back when they both started in the Agency together. Matter of fact, when they questioned Muir as to who gave the approval to have her snatch and exchanged to the Chinese, Muir refused to reveal the information but if you read the exchanged looks between Muir and Bryggman's character it gave me the impression that Muir dummy up that Bryggman's character was the one who gave the approval to do the exchange.

    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    Again, you are trusting the story that Muir tells the group in the room. We have no idea how Hadley really ended up in China. It was all Muir's tale. Plus, if Bryygmsdlfkjs??? knew Muir so well, how come he didn't know Muir's marital status? He could have called Muir on it not once, not twice, but at least 3 times, and he didn't. He didn't know Muir *that* well, they just "came up" together, but that doesn't mean they were buddy-buddy. Every single person in that room believe Muir until the end. Muir covered his tracks pretty well until the very end, but by then it was too late for the group to let Bishop hang out to dry.

    Also, remember when Muir tells the guys in that room that the story not in the report was a doozie (paraphrasing)? Well, that's because it was just that, a doozie. Do you really think Muir would spend $282K on Bishop? I think it was spent on his wife.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Sorry Patrick I'm still not buying your premise. Just too much speculation on your part with no evidence that she was Muir's wife. Furthermore, there was too much hesitation on Muir's part when he was deliberating on spending his retirement fund before finally calling his broker.
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    So why do they bring up that Muir only had one wife at the very end of the film? His having 4 wives becomes the biggest laugh in the film from what the Chinese CIA dude in the room says.
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    Robert, either way, it's still a fun exercise to run the film in your mind with my premise, as it takes on a whole new dimension as to the stakes of the game for him personally.
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Patrick,

    You missed one little detail which is why I think you're reaching:

    Remember, when Muir had Pitt's capture leaked to CNN. At that time, he knew the CIA would have to get their man to save face. He was in the lobby at about 4:00p.m. when he was getting ready to hand in his ID and parking pass before going home when CNN came back on and retracted their story. At that point, he returned upstairs knowing that his attempt to get the CIA to bargain for Pitt's return had failed which had nothing to do with the woman and wouldn't have matter to the CIA to negotiate for her return.

    Crawdaddy
     
  9. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    Actually, I don't really think it was that simple, thre was too much of Muir trying to bury Bishop's past to think that he was only looking out for Bishop. When the CIA disavowed any knowledge of Bishop and even offered his death being 14 months ago, Muir was out of options from a Standard Operating Protocol point of view and had to construct the plan that performed outside the box of the CIA.

    Plus, I'm sure Muir knew that CNN guy was MI-6, so he knew what Muir was asking him to do (which BTW, could have been Bishop's one last mission as the CIA buried him on CNN).

    I'm pretty sure Muir knew why Bishop was in the prison helping Hadley escape, but he though it'd be a routine rescue. This is why he gave them that story of Hadley and Bishop while maintaining the need for his presence inside the CIA, to string them along so he had enough access to CIA facilities to get his plan in motion.

    I just don't accept every word that Muir told the CIA bigwigs in that taped room as being the gospel truth. And I don't think the story was as straight forward as it appeared.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Patrick,

    You need to see the film again. If you did then you'll recognized that your premise is wrong.

    Crawdaddy
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I'm skipping the spoiler tags. Anyone who's read this far shouldn't need them.

    Crawdaddy is correct. If the flashbacks were entirely a fabrication, they wouldn't contain various details that are clearly Muir's recollections and that he would have no reason to relate to the CIA brass (notably, the flask that Bishop gives him for his birthday, after exhaustive research to determine when that birthday actually is). And if the rescue mission were aimed at Hadley, Bishop would know that it was set up by Muir and wouldn't react as he does when he hears the reference to "Operation Dinner Out", which is a reference that Muir knows only Bishop would recognize. Bishop has no idea that Muir is involved until he overhears that phrase in the helicopter.

    And I agree that it takes Bishop quite a while to make up his mind to use his savings. That's why he keeps pulling out those Bahamas brochures to stare at them.

    M.
     
  12. stephen la

    stephen la Stunt Coordinator

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    patrick. you had me going there for a second.. but I thought that wife story was a little odd..

    I think he spent all his life savings for brad pitt's character (bishop).. because of guilt.. years before he kidnapped his woman.. and had her sent off to a chinese prison..bishop was going to be killed trying to rescue her

    it would of been on his conscience ..retiring knowing bishop died because of what redford did years ago.. so he did the right thing.. but it went against his spy creed,, but he wasnt a spy anymore, was he..

    and towards the end...redford had a call..they said it was his secretery on the line.. and not his wife..then she put him through to the military officer ..then one of the guys at the table says.. thats a weird thing to say to your wife "dinner out is a go"..
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    If I get a chance to see it again, I will, but my premise "would" have made this a great film. It only needs one or two scenes to add the resonance. Muir has laid all the groundwork in his briefings with the CIA bigwigs.

    The film in its straight forward form is pretty good.
     
  14. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

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    Patrick, you really had me going too until I read stephen la's response; he said it all...

    "it would of been on his conscience "

    "they said it was his secretery on the line...one of the guys at the table says.. thats a weird thing to say to your wife "dinner out is a go"."

    I mean, shit, did you see the look on brad pitt's face when he found out the name of the mission was dinner out? Bottom line: Spy Game is a great story of friendship.
     
  15. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Looking waaaayyyyyyyy to much into this, Patrick...

    --

    Holadem
     
  16. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Wow, great spin there, Patrick.

    I'm pretty sure that's NOT what the story's about, but you're right - all it would take is 1 or 2 different/additional scenes to make it work.

    I liked the pace and the "cat and mouse" effect of this movie alot. It works for me as is - but Patrick's idea would make it a real twister of a tale.

    BTW- maybe Redford spent his retirement not so much to bale out Pitt as a friend and fellow spy, but more to preserve Pitt's one true love - Hadley - whom he had traded away. I think he had BOTH Pitt's life and Pitt's love on his conscience as he retired, otherwise.
     
  17. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Interesting spin, Patrick. I'm not sure that it would be better simply because Muir's motivations and actions might have been more clear cut. The fact that he was conflicted over his decision to proceed seemed to work well within the constructs of the narrative.
    I don't know if anyone else noticed this or not, but I got a big laugh ( supressed at the theater ) over the brand of cigarettes Muir dropped on the desk. They were MORLEY which is, of course, the cigarette smoking man's brand. Nice touch. [​IMG]
    - Walter.
     
  18. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  19. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Some questions:

    - What was the "Dinner Out" reference from? By the end of the movie I'd forgotten where I'd heard that the first time :b

    - What was Muir's motivation for rescuing Bishop? This was a weakness, I thought. The motivation for his change of heart was not properly established, for him to rescue Bishop.

    - Which section of the movie did you like best? The first third was smart, insightful spycraft-critique, in the same vein as "Three Kings". The latter two-thirds was Tom Clancy-style, spy/intrigue/action movie. Both were interesting and enjoyable, but I wish the whole movie could have been of the style and depth of the first third. (But I also think this movie movie out Clancy-ed the Clancy movie-adaptations, except for Red October.)

    - How old was Tom Bishop supposed to be? He was in Vietname, so he's 20 in 1970, say. But the movie takes place in 1991(?), so he'd be about 41 then, when in China. He didn't look or act 41. Am I missing something?

    Despite some flaws, I enjoyed it a good deal. Redford and Pitt were an interesting, and highly effective, combination. Both gave excellent performances.
     
  20. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Re: Pitt's character's (Bishop) age - my wife leaned over and whispered when the Vietnam flashback story started:

    "that would make Pitt all of about 12 years old".

    It took some suspension of belief, having Pitt too young now to have been in Vietnam with Muir; conversely, the flashbacks still had Redford looking 60+ even back in Vietnam and Lebanon (only change in appearance I could tell were his sideburns).

    It's funny though - these are the kind of details I'd jump on if I didn't enjoy or get really into a movie - here, I didn't even think of it until the earlier post. That says the movie "worked" for me, because I could overlook it, being absorbed in everything else about it.
     

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