Spy Game ★★ ½ 2001 (R)
It's 1991, and cagey veteran spy Nathan Muir (Redford) is on the verge of retirement, when he discovers that former protege Tom Bishop (Pitt) is to be executed in a Chinese prison for espionage. Muir has 24 hours to rescue Bishop, and to do it, he must first outwit his CIA superiors, who would rather lose the rogue agent than risk damaging an international trade agreement. Story's core is implausible but script is dense with information and drama, and the ultra-brisk editing leaves little time to consider the inadequacies. The use of geopolitical atrocities to add weight to a romantic subplot between Bishop and a British foreign-aid worker (McCormack) feels forced and, at times, insensitive. But Redford's cool and sarcastic performance, recalling his role in “Three Days of the Condor,” makes up for some deficiencies and anchors the film nicely. 127m/C VHS, DVD, HD DVD . US Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine McCormack, Stephen (Dillon) Dillane, Larry Bryggman, Michael Paul Chan, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, David Hemmings, Matthew Marsh, Todd Boyce, Charlotte Rampling; D: Tony Scott; W: Michael Frost Beckner, David Arata; C: Dan Mindel; M: Harry Gregson-Williams.