For much of the last 10 years, Robert Redford has turned his attention to behind-the-scenes endeavors, directing dramas like "The Horse Whisperer" and watching his Sundance Film Festival spin into a deal-making juggernaut. Now, for the first time since 1998, Redford is returning to his acting roots with "Spy Game."
In "Spy Game" Redford plays a retiring CIA agent whose daydreams of golf and lazy afternoons on the porch are interrupted when his protege (Brad Pitt) is kidnapped by the Chinese. Catherine McCormack, last seen by most audiences playing Mel Gibson's doomed lover in "Braveheart," is in negotiations to join the cast, co-starring as an activist and the object of Pitt's affections. The Hollywood Reporter has more on McCormack's signing.
In a way "Spy Game" serves as a bookend to Redford's career. Back in the mid-70s he starred in classic intrigue flicks like "Three Days of the Condor" and "All the President's Men." In 1992 he picked up the spy thread again, playing a hacker on the run in "Sneakers." Now, with "Spy Game," he'll portray a retiring CIA agent, and barring a sequel, this will probably be Redford's last foray into the spy genre. It's the end of a devious era, which is a shame because Redford's spy movies have always been fun to watch.
"Fun to watch" is a phrase entangled with the films of "Spy Game" director Tony Scott. Scott's quick edits and visceral punch are pure eye candy, but the director can occasionally go overboard ("The Last Boy Scout" was enjoyable but exhausting). Fortunately, the steadying influence of an older star like Redford can keep Scott in line. In 1998, Scott worked with Gene Hackman on "Enemy of the State" and the result was a slick blockbuster that admirably examined issues of personal privacy in the technology age. What's more, Scott showed an affinity for bleeping gadgets in "Enemy" and one thing you can never have enough of in a spy flick is bleeping gadgets.
Scott wasn't the first choice to direct "Spy Game." When the project was announced earlier this year, Dutch director Mike Van Diem was attached. Upcomingmovies.com says Van Diem left the production amicably back in May and Scott was hired soon thereafter. The reason I bring up all this director hoo-ha is because many reports on "Spy Game" have said the film will be told through flashbacks. However, this storytelling technique is more a mark of Van Diem than Scott, so its inclusion in the current version might be in doubt.
"Spy Game" is set to begin filming next month and will probably be released in the second half of 2001. On a related note, Redford's latest directorial project"The Legend of Bagger Vance"opens November 3.