Spy Games (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes


Spy Games is an international espionage story filmed mostly in Helsinki.

What a setting! Yes, the bitter cold, the mountainous urban snowdrifts, the reindeer with icicles dripping from their jowls, the depressed and unsmiling faces facing each day of grayness ... all part of something the Finns quaintly refer to, as they have since ancient times, as "summer".

Based upon my observations of Finland in this movie, I am now able to give a detailed breakdown of how the Finnish workforce is divided:

  • Workers in the Vodka and Cell phone industries: 32%
  • Famous architects 23%
  • Sauna builders and maintenance people: 20%
  • Reindeer herders: 14%
  • Hockey players: 6%
  • Russian border guards: 5%

Actually, this movie got kind of a rough time from the members at IMDb, but it's just a piece of fluff comedy, with Bill Pullman and Bruno Kirby providing some (minimal) laughs, and Irene Jacob providing something or another. She was cast as a Russian spy in a comedy, although she is neither Russian nor funny, so you have to wonder why anyone thought that was a good idea. Well, I guess if you're going to hire a French woman to play a Russian in an English-language comedy, Jacob is funnier than Juliette Binoche. Of course, Ingmar Bergman is funnier than Binoche. Hell, the prophet Jeremiah was funnier than Binoche.

Oh, wait.

The part called for the female spy to get naked in the sauna, and Irene Jacob looks exceptionally good naked.

I guess that solves the mystery of why they hired her.

But I digress. The movie is dumber than a box full of rocks, but it has some minor chuckles and is honestly not an unpleasant way to pass the time when you are looking to shut off the brain cells. I think the reviewers roughed it up because it kind of switches away from comedy now and then and takes itself a bit seriously. Oh, I'm not telling you this is funnier than Blazing Saddles, but it isn't completely bad either.



  • bare-bones



  • Irene Jacob shows everything.
  • Bill Pullman - buns
  • Linda Gyllenberg (Zilliacus) - breasts

Tuna's notes

Spy Games is an espionage comedy set in Finland. Think I Spy, but with sex. It is an English/Finnish/American/French/German co-production, which may explain why they cast Irene Jacob in the female lead role as a Russian Spy. International co-production deals frequently have casting restrictions as part of the deal.

Jacob works for the SVR (former KGB), and her assignment is to keep an eye on CIA agent Bill Pullman, which is not difficult since they are constant bed partners. They are both ambitious but feel somewhat obsolete with the end of the cold war. Then, someone encodes satellite access codes into a porn tape, and tries to smuggle it into Finland to pass on to the SVR. CIA desk agent Glenn Plummer is sent into the field to recover the codes, and doesn't get along well with Pullman, who's an experienced field operative. Getting his hands on the tape was easy enough, but finding out what the contents are proves much more challenging. The real challenge, however, is to make a substitute porno film filled with disinformation.

This begins to set up the most hilarious moment in this film. As Plummer was constantly replaying the porno to try and decode it, a maid and a porter had their ears glued to the door. When the decision was made to shoot another porno, they were drafted as the performers. Shooting was done, the couple was relaxing on the bed, and something irritated Plummer, so he shouted "fuck."

And they did.

The IMDb rating of 4.3 is a little harsh. It could be a reaction to the fact that this could have been much better than it was. t was moderately funny in places, Jacob and Pullman had chemistry, and there were clever aspects to the plot, but it just didn't work the way it could have. I suspect the problem lies with the fact that it takes native fluency of a language to create a successful comedy in that language. There is nothing at all wrong with the plot outline, but much of the dialogue could have been improved, and the timing was mostly off.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. Has some bad moments, but has some good ones as well. It is a kinda watchable film that doesn't really work consistently.

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