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SPY GAMES (HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT) (director: Ilkka Jarvilaturi; screenwriters: Patrick Amos/story by Patrick Amos & Jean-Pierre Gorin; cinematographer: Michel Amathieu ; editor: Alan Strachan; music: Courtney Pine; cast: Bruno Kirby (Max Fisher), Bill Pullman (Harry), Irene Jacob (Natasha), Udo Kier (Ivan Bliniak), Glenn Plummer (Dave), Andre Oumansky (Yuri); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Kerry Rock/Jonathan Karlsen; Trimark; 1999-UK-in English and Finnish, with English subtitles)
“Never shows us it’s not a total manipulation.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A rom-com spoof spy film about the last days of the Cold War is lamely directed by Finland filmmaker Ilkka Jarvilaturi(“Darkness in Tallinn”). It’s taken from a Patrick Amos story and adapted to film by the author. It’s filmed with an international cast. Everything is unbelievable, from the romance to the spy story. The film is stuck in its artificial plot devices, as it never shows us it’s not a total manipulation. What is just as bad, is that it’s not funny. It’s filmed almost entirely in Helsinki.

Jaded, cool CIA agent Harry (Bill Pullman) and the much younger Russian SVR agent Natasha (Irene Jacob) are spies stationed in Helsinki, on opposite sides, but are occasionally secret lovers. Despite the improbability of their romance, each is trying to do their job to save the world.

When Max (Bruno Kirby), a courier, shows up in gloomy wintertime Helsinki with a porno videotape containing U.S. satellite codes, Natasha pines to retrieve them for herself. This is her way to get out of the clutches of her psycho boss (Udo Kier). Meanwhile Harry has the gung-ho newbie agent Dave (Glenn Plummer) annoyingly keeping tabs on him. So he tries to discover in a silly way the codes on the tape to get Dave off his back.

Everything seems out of place, even the jazz score by Courtney Pine.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”