Fri December 7, 2001
These boys have a chemistry when they are together, not because of the cliched older /younger man motif, but because they obviously respect each other and enjoy the company.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Butch and Sundance are but a romantic memory. Robert Redford and Brad Pitt are the real game here: Redford aging gracefully with facial lines and a cool that comes from forty years of being cool in movies; Pitt shedding his pretty-boy persona once again to be grubby and bloodied, to act with maturity even though he is 30 years younger than the Sundance Kid.
Pitt has been imprisoned in China, and Redford tries to spring him, both having worked together as CIA operatives. The first part of the film labors through flashbacks to bring up the history and character of the 2 protagonists. But when Redford starts to put his plan into action, action effortlessly takes over the film. Added to the energy of the duo's relationship is Catherine McCormack as an aid worker who falls for Pitt but may be more than she seems, perhaps a spy herself. The connection between her and Pitt is actually better developed than his with Redford because of the plot intricacy with the latter and the easier emotional territory with the former.
Director Tony Scott movies his "Enemy-of-the-State" cameras sometimes with annoying speed, whoosh pans often intruding. A scene atop the Fuji Film Building alternates between close-ups of the 2 stars and semicircular aerial shots to dizzying effect. Of course, quick cuts and electronic imagery are prevalent in this and most other spy films set in the 90's. Please spare us those location titles and time notations?the 90's are history.
But locations are a strength: cinematographer Dan Mindel has taken Budapest, Oxford, Morocco, Berlin and evoked a yellowed Vietnam, gray Lebanon, and dark China with a beauty unusual and mysterious.
When De Niro and Hoffman joined in "Wag the Dog," I was disappointed to see so many one shots, a signal that the actors were being filmed at different times. In "Spy Game" it?s not so much one shots as the distance between the actors, one in Washington and the other in China. These boys have a chemistry when they are together, not because of the cliched older /younger man motif, but because they obviously respect each other and enjoy the company. I would have liked more Butch and Sundance.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time" and vice-chairs the Board of the Film Council of Greater Columbus.