Currently browsing the "spy thriller" tag.

Review: The Courier

This is another “based on true events” film. The story begins in 1960 as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is threatening to bury the West. The CIA and MI6 are scrambling for ways to get some inside info on the Soviet nuclear program, and to that end they make the unlikely decision to recruit a British salesman, Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s done business for some time in Eastern Europe so heading to Moscow wouldn’t be a red flag to Soviet intelligence. And he’s not expected to do anything except be a courier for leaked intel. Former Soviet military intelligence colonel, now trade minister Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) has already made contact. He has unfettered access to all the crucial intelligence, and he’s got a conscience. He may be a believer in the Soviet Socialist system, but he’s willing to work against it to stop the march towards what he sees as inevitable nuclear war. And together Oleg and Grenville save the world. Really.

Quickie Review: Beirut

Beirut is a fairly standard spy thriller and political drama that takes place primarily in 1982 but still feels relevant and timely given the perpetual, seemingly futile efforts to secure peace in the Middle East. The film stars Jon Hamm (Baby Driver, “Mad Men”) as Mason Stiles, a US diplomat who flees Lebanon after a tragic incident at his Beirut home in 1972. Fast-forward ten years, and Stiles is called back to Beirut to help negotiate the release of a friend and CIA operative whose captors insist on talking only with Stiles, for reasons that relate back to his time in the war-torn country.

Quickie Reviews: Atomic Blonde and Landline

Atomic Blonde is set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989. As the Cold War appears to be nearing its end, the spy game is hot as ever. British MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin to retrieve a stolen list that threatens to expose the identity of all Western spies. It’s a familiar plot line in espionage thrillers, and in this case, the convoluted plot is a mere vehicle for launching a tangled web of deceit among Broughton’s contacts (including James McAvoy as embedded station chief David Percival) and triggering a whole lot of extended fight scenes. Lorraine’s weapons of choice include anything she can get her hands on – from guns and knives, to keys and high heels – all swung with lethal force. The film is like a hyper-violent Jason Bourne or Bond movie with a lead that happens to be a badass chick.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of those movies to which close attention must be paid. It is a dense story full of twists, turns and quiet intrigue. There are no car chases, explosions, or running gun battles. It’s a cerebral and still spy thriller; a nice change of pace from what so often falls into the “thriller” genre these days.

The Debt

The Debt is intriguing and has a stellar cast, but I’m hesitant to recommend it – except to those who desperately crave a spy-thriller over the long Labor Day weekend. If you do go, keep your expectations in check and enjoy it for the fine acting as opposed to any real depth of character or story development.

Unknown

If you’re a fan of Liam Neeson and you like movies like The Bourne Identity, then you really can’t go wrong with Unknown. It’s a classic psychological thriller that leaves you wondering what’s what for a solid, fast-moving two hours.

Fair Game

Fair Game is billed as a political and/or spy thriller – but it’s really a horror movie, at least for democrats. It’s a cautionary tale about government operatives, back-channel dealings, vendettas, and the manipulation of facts to promote an agenda. And it’s based on a true story – which makes it even scarier!

Salt

Salt is an action-packed spy thriller that keeps you engaged and entertained, but doesn’t really break any new ground. Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer who goes on the run when she’s accused of being a Russian spy. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor play federal agents in hot pursuit of Salt, who may or may not be a bad guy. I mean, girl.