12 August 2006 | saykeng
Quite a good thriller...more of an expose on some dirty tricks of CIA operatives!
It is refreshing to watch an older Robert Redford pitting his acting skills against a younger Brad Pitt in this spy thriller movie. Both of them acted very well despite the sketchy plot.
To me, the storyline is pretty straight-forward: A retiring CIA operative, Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) learned that his protégé, Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), had been arrested in China as a result of a botched rescue attempt of his girl-friend. He was due to be executed shortly. Because of vested interests, CIA refused to mount a rescue. Out of friendship, Muir engineered a successful but unauthorized rescue.
The entire movie is beautifully choreographed through black & white flash-backs & pure dialog, during which Muir recalled his personal encounter & close friendship with his protégé. That relationship spanned across a time line of about twenty years, from the Vietnam War in the 70's, to the end of the cold war in Berlin during the 80's & then to the mean streets of Beirut in the 90's.
The movie moves on to show how Muir had taught Bishop all the skills (or dirty tricks?) of spycraft...how to case a restaurant, fix a radio,...to be callous, look at the big picture...to stay remote...to sell out people if that's of use...to kill.
There is no typical high-octane action sequences in this spy thriller movie, except for a heart-pounding escape scene in a China prison.
Throughout the movie, one can see how Muir had to use his wits & all the skills (or dirty tricks?) he had learned while working for the CIA to out-smart the CIA's top echelon as well as his fellow CIA operatives to mount a personally-financed rescue mission.
I really enjoyed watching his brilliant machinations as he moved from scene to scene in the movie. I just loved the part where he juxtaposed CIA satellite images to fool his bosses. He even forged the signature of the CIA Director. At the end of it, all of them apparently did not have the slightest clue as to what was happening & had happened.
On the whole, I have enjoyed watching this spy thriller. It is also comforting to know that an accomplished Singaporean actor, Adrian Pang, had a small role in the movie. He played a medic during the botched rescue attempt.