Spy City review: A very Bondesque spy thriller – sexism included
Christmas is, traditionally, the time when we have an excuse to watch (i.e. fall asleep during) Bond movies, hence the latest BritBox launch, Spy city, is quite appropriate. Starring Dominic Cooper as Scott, Fielding Scott, a very Bondesque British agent in the Cold War Berlin, this is very much in the style of the early adaptations of Ian Fleming’s novels, which were premiered times when this miniseries was shot, circa 1961. Berlin at that time was half occupied by earthy Russians, and half by Western allies.
There are two sets of particular mysteries to be unraveled Spy city, a place where no one trusts anyone else and where no one really knows what’s going on, much like our dear government today. The drama opens with a very unfortunate incident in a German public toilet, where the cleaner is shot by a man who is then beaten to death against a urinal by Constable Scott. I wondered what the German police might think of such a scene, just like Scott when he finds out that the guy he just run over in the khazi is actually also a British agent and a good friend of the chief. From post. Leaving aside a misunderstanding of what the two of them were doing in the men’s bathroom, Scott needs to know why this man tried to kill him. It’s understandable, but his British colleagues back at Spy HQ in West Berlin are useless and suspicious, which makes Scott even more suspicious… well, you know the kind of paranoid spiral they make.
The second puzzle, no doubt related, is who betrays Scott’s old friend, a brilliant East German rocket scientist who ends up dying, alongside his family, just as they were about to defect with a new missile guidance system. Since Berlin during the Cold War was under international four-lane control, there is a choice of stereotypical suspects – brash Americans, Brits in public schools and sexy French people. Sexy French agent Severine Bloch is portrayed with as much dignity as she can handle by Romane Portail, but she’s still more the kind of throwaway woman you’ll find in an old Bond movie than anything you’re in. right to wait in our waking days. Still, there is time for Bloch’s character development, as we learn that her husband was tortured to death during the war by the Germans for being in the Resistance; so maybe he was a communist, so maybe she’s sympathetic to the soviet union… Scott is also being spied on by his German secretary, Eliza (Leonie Benesch), but that hardly matters.
Spy city is a sort of compromise between a clever dramatization of Le Carré and a stunning Bond antics. It works because it means you can keep up with all the twists and turns and it’s more engaging than a succession of car chases and over-the-top bad brains. The excellent costumes add to the sense of style and they combine archival footage with reenactments very well. Rather, it’s imbued with the kind of casual sexism, lack of diversity, and indifferent dialogue that marked the worst of the Sean Connery era. There’s also a pretty gratuitous and never-ending sex scene (Scott and Bloch, of course) that’s almost as unintentionally comedic as the bloodbath in the bogs. Very Christmas, I’m sure.