Connie NielsenMark Strong...
Action & AdventureDrama...
In 1 Cinema
Dear Paul Rudd, we love you. You made us laugh as Phoebe’s Mike in Friends and in your recent adventures as Ant-Man. However, you evoke such a nice guy and lovable dude vibe, that you playing a mysterious spy just doesn’t work. The effort is there, and the performance is admirable, but even with all your shrinking and expanding powers The Catcher Was a Spy can’t be saved.
The film is based on true events that took place in World War II and follows Moe Berg (Paul Rudd) who was a baseball player, a spy, and what is called “a walking enigma.” The Catcher Was a Spy follows the beginning of Berg’s career as a spy and his first mission to track down and “handle” genius German physicist Werner Heisenberg (Mark Strong) who is suspected of creating a nuclear bomb for the Nazis.
So, lets dissect this; a real-life baseball/spy who goes on his first ever mission to save the world from a nuclear bomb, that’s foolproof right?
Somehow the makers of this film managed to take all that and make it bland.
Firstly, the plot’s flow is messy as it does not act as a suspenseful count down to the meeting between Berg and Heisenberg. It also does not act as an insight into the life of Moe Berg since there is not a lot revealed about this supposedly enigmatic character. It also does not walk us through the historical events of the time, but rather places the history as a mere backdrop.
What the film actually says about Moe Berg is that he is very smart, private, in love with a piano teacher (Sienna Miller) but won’t marry her, and he likes libraries. There is a thin line between an intriguing mystery that leaves you wanting more and just missing information; the film is not great at striking that balance.
A major plus for the film was how cleanly it was shot, fitting the time period it is set in while retaining a high quality and great lighting.
As for the acting, Paul Rudd really did give it his all holding back his relatable, fun guy persona and covering it up with a coat of attempted mystery and seriousness. Rudd excelled in scenes were his emotional and loving persona could shine through, like a scene where Berg was leaving his girlfriend to travel abroad, not knowing if he would come back. Even though Werner Heisenberg is supposedly the second most important character in the film, Mark Strong gets less time on screen than you think he would. But, for the amount of time he got he did an adequate job. The supporting cast included big names like Guy Pearce, Jeff Daniels, and Paul Giamatti who mostly walked a mediocre line.
Great material but not the best execution. The Catcher Was a Spy is not a film we would recommend for history buffs, nor even major Paul Rudd lovers. A shame.