CIA veteran Nathan Muir (Robert Redford), on the day of his retirement in 1991, learns that his protégé Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) has “gone rogue” and been arrested in China, to be executed in 24 hours. Muir’s superiors have decided to cut Bishop adrift and are keeping Muir under wraps, but there are some tricks in the old fox yet. The script by Michael Frost Beckner and David Arata manages somehow to be both tantalizingly complicated and comfortably predictable, with an amusing flashback structure and good interplay between Redford (the old pro) and Pitt (the young Turk). Director Tony Scott, not trusting the story, tarts the film up with nervous cutting and self-consciously fussy camera tricks; he should have studied John Boorman’s The Tailor of Panama
to see how this kind of film is done.