ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth though you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Spy Game (2001), R
Analysis Date: November 26, 2001
CAP Score: 40
CAP Influence Density: 1.60

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objective and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

SPY GAME (R) -- violence-related activity leads the invasive programming.

Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Director(s): Tony Scott
Producer(s): Marc Abraham, Douglas Wick
Written by/Screenplay: Michael Beckner and David Arata
Cinematography/Camera: Daniel Mindel
Music: Harry Williams

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Please understand that movie deaths by police action or acts of war (whether by the US another country) are not incorporated into the Murder/Suicide investigation area but into Wanton Violence/Crime.

Brad Pitt is at home in this role as Tom Bishop, a know-it-all young upstart defying his mentor Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) every chance he gets. Muir is trying to teach Bishop to become a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spy.

Muir and Bishop meet in Vietnam. Muir is then also a CIA agent. Bishop is a crack marksman, recruited by Muir to assassinate a Vietnamese general. And that he does. In Berlin of the 70s, Muir finds need to get an informant out of Berlin. Remembering the talents and characteristics of Bishop, Muir recruits and trains Bishop to do just that. While the mission fails, Bishop apparently remains as a CIA agent because in 1985 Muir still has Bishop as a sidekick in Beirut as the CIA tries to thwart terrorist activities by enlisting terrorists to kill terrorists.

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April 11, 1991 Muir's is in the preparations to retire from the CIA. He has grown tired of the world and plans to go someplace warm. But Muir learns of Bishop being captured by the Chinese and sentenced to be executed for espionage 8:00 AM on April 12. An international incident such as the notoriety of a spy being executed would compromise trade negotiations with China. So, the CIA writes off Bishop and takes the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil stance, denying any knowledge of Bishop while Bishop is repeatedly beaten, brutally. Bishop was trying to rescue Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack), a spotted international aide worker, from the Su Chou prison. Bishop had become enamored with Hadley in his idle hours. His love for Elizabeth got him captured. And she is still in prison.

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Not willing to let his bud go down, Muir arranges a number of antics to rescue Bishop from the Su Chou prison. One includes bribing Chinese officials to shut down the electric power to the prison and to the whole region around Su Chou. This movie is a string of clever intelligence maneuvers, but then how is it we know anything about the CIA except through movies.
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There is, of course, lots of foul language in this R-rated movie, the most foul of the foul words outnumbering the rest of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Prov. 17:20]. There is not much sexually-oriented programming but there is one case of the aftermath of intercourse [1Cor. 7:2]. A plethora of violence-related activity leads the invasive programming [Jonah 3:8]. In addition to language crashing the Impudence/Hate score, lies are thick as are encouragements to lie and orders to lie. I have yet to find any Scripture which permits lying under any conditions or situations. As before, if a lie will gain something (e.g., a life), the sin is not only on the liar but on the one(s) to whom the lie would be told. God is very specific about the unforgiven liar [Rev. 22:14-15]. And I am not willing to discuss any justification for spies to lie because it is their "job."


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Prov. 17:20 He that hath a froward [iqqesh {ik-kashe'}:twisted, distorted, crooked, perverse, perverted] heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse [haphak {haw-fak'}: to turn, overthrow, overturn; obstinate in opposing the norm or the accepted] tongue [lashown {law-shone'}: language] falleth into mischief.
  • 1Cor. 7:2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
  • Jonah 3:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.
  • 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without [outside] are dogs, and [the unforgiven] sorcerers [those who practive magic arts], and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie [all liars - see Rev. 21:8].
  • Rev. 21:8 But the [unforgiven] fearful [cowardly], and unbelieving, and the abominable [vile], and murderers, and whoremongers [sexually immoral], and sorcerers [practitioners of witchcraft, magic], and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    *******Food for Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]

    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    FINDINGS / SCORING: Spy Game (2001) CAP Thermometers

    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • firearms for both offensive and defensive purposes and to control
  • prison break violence
  • reckless driving for convenience
  • gunfire assassination
  • battle warfare with deaths by incineration (unseen) and by gunfire
  • brutal beatings
  • assaults, including of a woman
  • pictures of murder and warfare victims
  • theft of needy children's supplies
  • child with injuries
  • planning murders and permitting murders
  • battle gore
  • offensive gunfire with graphic deaths
  • car bombing with deaths
  • bombing gore (75 deaths)
  • nearly continuous display of military ordnance
  • imagery of horrific brutality with gore
  • kidnapping

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 12 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • 14 uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • espionage lies throughout
  • encouragement and orders to lie
  • adult tantrum
  • "feels good to break a rule now and then."

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • sexual comments
  • excessive cleavage
  • man and woman in bed after intercourse (no nudity)
  • sensual imagery (skimpy swimwear)

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • bars

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • 12 uses of God's name in vain

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted (battle/warfare deaths and deaths by police action are incorporated into the Wanton/Violence scoring)

    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our five-year study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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