I confess to being disappointed by this, mostly due to a script which appears to believe that you can fool the entire CIA and have the entire resources of the US armed forces at your disposal with a couple of forged notes. I trust that isn't really the case. Nathan Muir (Redford) is on his last day at the agency (sigh...), when he hears his one-time protege Tom Bishop (Pitt) has been captured in China and will be executed the next morning. The CIA are happy to see him go, but Muir is equally intent on leaving no man behind, and begins to plot a rescue mission. In another contrived twist, he also has to explain to a committee, what his relationship is to Bishop; it goes back to Vietnam, through Berlin, to Beirut where there was a parting of the ways.
This was before Tony Scott came down with his recent severe case of Attention Deficit Disorder, so the movie is mostly in focus, shot on film, with the camera approximately on the level. If you've seen any of his recent work, it will come as a refreshing change. However, the results are lumbering and the flashback-heavy structure takes you out of what could have been a taut, 24-like scenario. All we really need to know is that Muir and Bishop have a past; let's skip the details, except where necessary, and move forward from that. While this may be an accurate portrayal of how the CIA really works, with memos and archives as important as bullet-firing pens, the makers have forgotten that veracity does not, by itself, make for great entertainment. Despite a decent performance from Redford, there wasn't enough to keep me interested.