Changing times at CIA headquarters. It's 1991, a week before the US president is due in China to renegotiate trade relations, and former operative Bishop (Pitt) has been captured during a rogue raid on a Shanghai prison. The agency has 24 hours to formulate a response before the Chinese authorities execute him, so a high level 'psychological profiling' session brings in veteran officer Muir (Redford), Bishop's mentor since their first encounter in Vietnam in 1975. Thus the flashbacks reel through the years, taking in bumps and scrapes in divided Berlin and wartorn mid-'80s Beirut, all handily arranged into a series of suspense set pieces, car chases and explosions. Best not taken too seriously, as the shaping factor seems to be the fading liberal star power of Redford as a rebel within the system, shored up by Pitt's low key contribution as an assassin discovering scruples. But the film's pared characterisation leaves these ideas unrealised, while Brad's supposedly significant romance with committed aid worker McCormack is a clumsy plot catalyst. Scott directs the military hardware with characteristic efficiency, even as the movie falls down around him.