WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Somewhere between civilians and soldiers, World War II era spies played the pivotal role of gathering and distributing intelligence at a time when a successful mission could mean the difference between dictatorship and democracy in their homelands.
A dancer in Cairo moves Morse code with her hips, a children’s book author illustrates his family out of enemy hands and a young woman takes the scars necessary to ensure her survival without sacrificing her mission.
These are just a few of the tales within “Super Spy” that prove the devil is truly in the day-to-day details of secrecy and espionage.
WHY IT WORKS: Sex, lies and assassinations. “Super Spy” manages to highlight the meat and potatoes of the spy genre without compromising the humanity that gives these actions weight, painting a compelling picture of the unglamorous realities associated with living to spy another day. By honing in on the motivations of regular people working in life-or-death situations, the material strips spying of its romantic clichés to reveal a much more vulnerable and relatable cast of secret agents.
WHY IT DOESN’T: Hollywood falls in and out of love with espionage and “Super Spy” might just be too balanced for a straight adaptation. A few of the more touching tales would ideally bring harmony to the sexier bits, but it might be too tempting for Tinsel Town to play up the quick action and miss out on the character-driven details. If too many compromises were made in the name of action, “Super Spy” could turn into, well, just another spy movie.
WHAT TO DO: Stick to the story and stay true to its pacing. “Super Spy’s” anthology-style narrative subtly sews together a collection of directly and indirectly related short stories with the subtlety of “Sin City” and the payoff of “Pulp Fiction.” Give each story its own time to breathe while remembering that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and audiences will want to come back for a second, or third helping until the details fully sink in.
LAST WORD: “Super Spy” is a human drama that spans a globe at war and forces audiences to confront the reality of having to measure the true value of passing on information at the cost of human lives. Remember that, and you’ve got an adaptation ripe for the picking.
Have you read “Super Spy?” Do you think it’s better off as a sequential narrative or is it your idea of a super film? Make Like an informant in the comments.