Release date10 September 1999 (1999-09-10)
22 October 1999 (1999-10-22)
11 July 2000 (2000-07-11)
(USA) WriterPatrick Amos (screenplay), Jean-Pierre Gorin (story), Patrick Amos (story) GenresAction Film, Comedy, Thriller, Romance Film, Romantic comedy, Suspense, Indie film CastIrene Jacob, Bill Pullman (Harry Howe), Bruno Kirby, Udo Kier, Glenn Plummer Similar moviesZombie and the Ghost Train (1991)
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Spy Games (History Is Made at Night) is a 1999 film directed by Ilkka Järvi-Laturi, and starring Bill Pullman, Irène Jacob, and Bruno Kirby. Written by Patrick Amos, the film is about a jaded CIA agent and a young and beautiful SVR agent fighting to save the world, their lives, and their secret love in post Cold War Helsinki. Filmed in Helsinki, Finland and New York City, the movie incorporates elements of romance, action, and thriller genres. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 1999.
Harry (Bill Pullman) is a seasoned CIA agent who is looking to forget his past and become his cover identity—a jazz club owner in Helsinki, Finland. Natasha (Irène Jacob) is a young, ambitious SVR (KGB) agent who is looking to secure a future for herself amidst the chaos of the new Russian Federation and her floundering intelligence agency. Originally assigned to spy on Harry, Natasha has fallen in love with the object of her spying, and her assignment has led to a torrid love affair between the two. Like all couples, they are keeping secrets from each other—but in their case, the secrets have international implications.
Harry's life with Natasha is disrupted when a young, over-zealous CIA agent, Dave (Glenn Plummer), comes to Helsinki to intercept a videotape encoded with state secrets en route from New York City. The videotape's hidden code is so sensitive that those who come in contact with the tape are soon killed. Dave is pursuing the unsuspecting courier, a manic ex-bond trader named Max (Bruno Kirby), who is unaware of what he is carrying. Max took the job by chance, following his recent prison term for stock market fraud. Natasha sees the videotape as a possible ticket out of the SVR and into the United States and the American Dream. In fact, everyone involved except Harry is planning to exploit the encoded videotape. Harry's only plan is to prevent Natasha from getting herself killed—or worse, from leaving him for U.S.
Bill Pullman as Harry Howe / Ernie Halliday
Irène Jacob as Natasha Scriabina / Anna Belinka
Bruno Kirby as Max Fisher
Glenn Plummer as Dave Preston
Udo Kier as Ivan Bliniak
André Oumansky as Yuri
Féodor Atkine as Romanov
Janne Kinnunen as Pekka
Linda Zilliacus as Maija (as Linda Gyllenberg)
Jevgeni Haukka as Slava
Marcia Diamond as Lauren
Henry Saari as Porn Man
Louise Hodges as Porn Woman (as Louise Hodges)
Bob Sherman as CIA Elder
Kimmo Eloranta as Bodyguard
Director Ilkka Järvi-Laturi wanted Bill Pullman for the lead character of Harry. "When we started casting, I knew right away that Bill was our man to play Harry ... He's an absolute natural for the part—intelligent, wry, and charmingly good looking." Producer Kerry Rock saw Bill in more practical terms: "Bill was the cornerstone of the casting process. We needed someone the right age, who was enough of a name, who could do the humor as well as being scary and believably violent at the tough spots of the story." Co-star Bruno Kirby also found Bill to be the perfect match: "The great thing about Bill is that he looks very straight, but if you look him in the eye, there's a real crazy sense of humor there."
On working in Helsinki, Bill Pullman observed, "There's nothing like working on a movie to see great places, it's better than going to any travel agent. We've had some of the best locations—a former czar's fishing hut that was our Lapland hotel in December. And in Helsinki there some of the best art nouveau architecture anybody's seen." Bruno Kirby pleasantly surprised by his filming experience in Helsinki: "I was expecting this dark place, with nowhere decent to eat, with unfriendly people. In reality, it's been the opposite. It's a wonderful city, with wonderful, highly educated people, great restaurants and great shops. The people want to talk, and they are very proud of their city, and they love the fact we're using Helsinki for Helsinki."
Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, Vantaa, Finland
New York City, New York, USA
Courtney Pine did the original soundtrack and plays in the band in the film. To reflect the main character's job running a jazz nightclub, the music soundtrack is a combination of sixties soul and cool jazz.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 1999, and opened in Finland on 22 October 1999. Spy Games was released in the United States in DVD format 11 July 2000.