There are flashbacks galore in this film, which means that when Robert Redford remembers back to the time in Vietnam when he and Brad Pitt first met -- when Robert Redford was a crack CIA operative and Brad was teenage Army sniper -- the "flashback" Redford looks exactly the same as he does right now: 65.
For God's sake, man, have you never heard of makeup? It's that stuff they rub all over your face so that when you do a flashback that's sixteen years in the past, your crinkly-ass face doesn't look like a wadded piece of wax paper. Maybe somebody not cowed by Redford could point out the obvious to him: YOU ARE OLD, MAN!! REALLY OLD!! AND YOU LOOK OLD!! Director Tony Scott can use all the soft focus he wants short of ejaculating directly on the camera lens, but it doesn't really help.
The story is about a rogue CIA operative, Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), who gets caught trying to free a political prisoner in a China. The Chinese are going to execute Tom in a short 24 hours and it's up to Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) to save him. Two problems with this: First, it's the day of Nathan's retirement (I kid you not). Second, all his superiors hate his guts because he's "old school" and they're "new school," which apparently means that Muir knows everything and they're dumber than chalk.
Even though Pitt is the one in prison, the film focuses on Redford, who incidentally, is really, really old. We get to see how Muir trained Bishop and how they eventually parted ways because Bishop met hot tail in the form of Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack). This is another difference between old school and new school. Old school believes that hot tail is no reason to jeopardize an operation; new school begs to differ. Actually, director Tony "Top Gun" Scott couches this hot tail issue as a humanitarian one and through the course of the film, Redford realizes that human relationships are more important than rules and that an occasional woody isn't necessarily a career-buster. Oh, and we find out that Redford is really, really old.
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