‘The Catcher Was a Spy’ Turns an Amazing True Story Into a Mediocre Movie

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

The Catcher Was a Spy

Being a baseball fan means that you’re keenly aware of the game’s legends from the past. When World War II broke out, a number of the game’s biggest stars left behind their team uniforms and put on an Army uniform to fight the war on either of its two fronts. This gap in playing time for many greats has baseball fans wondering the unanswerable – what would the career numbers of Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams had looked like had they not lost years of their prime to military service? One baseball name that kind of slipped through the cracks of time was Moe Berg. It’s not hard to see why Berg isn’t exactly a legend of the diamond.

A 15-year veteran of the major leagues, Berg was a backup catcher for most of his career, accumulating a grand total of 441 hits (only 6 of which were home runs) in his journeyman career. Moe Berg was extraordinary but not for his baseball work, and the remarkable true story of a catcher who was conscripted into Office of Strategic Service (OSS) is the subject of the new film The Catcher Was a Spy. Sadly, though, the facts of The Catcher Was a Spy are more remarkable than the film itself, which struggles to create much of an identity in a little over 90 minutes.

After opening with a brief tease of what’s to come, director Ben Lewin starts off his film in Fenway Park as Moe Berg (Paul Rudd) is behind the plate. The light-hitting catcher is facing the twilight of his career, though he’s earned some renown as being the smartest man in baseball – as illustrated in the film when he appears on a radio program. Berg is bachelor but has an ongoing relationship with Estella Huni (Sienna Miller), who yearns for more commitment than he’s able to give. Before his playing days are over, Berg takes a journey to Japan as part of a goodwill mission of baseball All-Stars, the backup catcher is able to capture a sprawling vista of Tokyo, something that would become useful in the coming years.

It’s this setup for The Catcher Was a Spy that suggests you’re in for a rather unimaginative, by-the-numbers historical drama. It’s so generic that not even one of the most likable actors of a generation in Paul Rudd can liven up the leaden dialogue and perfunctory plotting that oozes from Robert Rodat’s screenplay adaptation of Nicholas Dawidoff’s book.

The film does begin to pick up once Moe Berg has joined the OSS after an awkward meeting with “Wild Bill” Donovan (Jeff Daniels), head of America’s intelligence arm. Berg travels to the front lines of the war with Robert Furman (Guy Pierce), an intelligence officer, and Samuel Goudsmit (Paul Giamatti), an American-Dutch physicist to gather intelligence on Germany’s efforts to develop an atomic bomb, as well as hopefully urge them to defect. Matters are further complicated when it comes to renowned German physicist Werner Heisenberg (Mark Strong), who turned down the offer to leave Germany prior to the outbreak of the war. The OSS believed Heisenberg as being at the forefront of the Nazi efforts to develop the A-bomb, and task Berg with discerning Heisenberg’s work on a potential nuclear weapon and, if necessary, assassinate him.

Ben Lewin’s film is buoyed in the later scenes by its great cast that breathes a bit of life into the film’s more rote aspects. There’s a pretty solid battle scene that provides the film with a bit of visceral action. But it’s lacking in tension until the film’s final scenes, where (if you don’t know your history) the lingering question of whether or not Heisenberg is in league with the Nazis and whether or not Berg is going to shoot him down creates a tense dynamic, and Rudd and Strong bring strong poker faces to their duplicitous characters meeting face to face.

And yet by the end of The Catcher Was a Spy I didn’t feel like I’ve left the film with a greater knowledge of the wide web of espionage cast by the Allies in the fight against the Nazis. I didn’t feel like I understood this brilliant man with multiple degrees, who spoke multiple languages, wound up as a mediocre catcher and a brilliant spy. Then The Catcher Was a Spy is content to conclude in the most unimaginative way possible for a historical biopic – title cards informing us of the characters’ lives after the movie ends complete with pictures of the real life subjects. Such a remarkable and unusual story deserves to be told, but it needed to be told in a remarkable and unusual manner. This by-the-numbers biopic won’t suffice.

The Catcher Was a Spy
  • Overall Score
2.5

Summary

An amazing true story told in the most rote way possible, even the great Paul Rudd can’t save The Catcher Was a Spy from drowning beneath all the clichés of the biopic genre.

YogaOutlet.com

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review
‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Loses the Magic

Even though the Harry Potter saga ended seven years ago, there...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Review
A Robust Sense of Humor Makes ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ a Superior Sequel

2012’s Wreck-It Ralph was a brazen nostalgia play. Granted, it was...

Aaron Wolf Talks about His Movie ‘Restoring Tomorrow’

Filmmaker, Aaron Wolf spoke with us about his Oscar nominated documentary,...

Event News Event Reviews
Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure: Music, Comedy & Comic Con Festival, Nov 3-4 in Orange County

In less than a month, Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure makes its debut,...

The 9th Annual Brew HA HA Craft Beer Photo Gallery

Photos by FanboyNation Craft Beer Expert, Dave Warner. Related

Long Beach Comic Con Photo Gallery

Related

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Taco Bell Xbox
The Newest Taco Bell Box is an Xbox – Your Chance to Win a Taco Bell Xbox

Taco Bell and Xbox are partnering up to give fans a chance...

Exclusive Track Premiere from Madden NFL 19!

(July 26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA) – Lakeshore Records today...

Star Ocean Anamnesis
8.0/10
The Most Intuitively Fun Gameplay of Any Mobile RPG – Star Ocean Anamnesis Review

Star Ocean Anamnesis is hands down the most fun and intuitive gameplay...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Stan Lee, the Co-Creator of the Marvel Universe, Dead at 95

According to reports earlier today, Stanley Martin Lieber aka Stan the...

Five Questions for Gary Morgenstein About ‘A Mound Over Hell’

Gary Morgenstein is a journalist, public relations expert and author with...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Eagle Eyes
Protect Your Eyes with Eagle Eyes Glasses – Eagle Eyes TV Kit Review

Eagle Eyes TV Kit review – Feel the difference and get...

Nooligan Talks About His New DC Collectibles Batman Family Line

Visual Artist Nooligan uses the influences of his First Nation ancestry along...

DC Collectibles Brings Batman Dark Nights: Metal to Life

Straight from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL comics series comes...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
LFA 54 Full Results

Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) returned  to Costa Mesa, CA for another...

Lion Fight Promotions Logo
Lion Fight 50 Full Results

November 3, 2018 – Los Angeles – Lion Fight Promotions presents...

PFL 9 Lightweight and Light Heavyweight Semi-Final Results From Long Beach

Saturday, October 13, 2018 – Professional Fighters League (PFL) 9 took...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring/Behold Tacocat/Harry Potter and the world wide web of lies!

more wacky hijinx with the Hogwarts kids and a tacocat.

Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring/Behold Tacocat!/Harry potter and the web of lies!

The next senses shattering episode of the increasingly subtitled Harry Potter...

Comics on the Can – Super Dinosaur

Comics on the can   Super Dinosaur   Writer – Robert...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Coastal Commoners Ep 8 – Saying Farewell to Stan Lee

This week the commoner’s say farewell to Marvel Comics legend, Stan...

Coastal Commoners Ep 7 Mid-Term Elections!

Oh the headaches of elections and what can go wrong. We...

Coastal Commoners Ep 6 Synagogue Shooting and Antisemitism

This week on Coastal Commoners, Gary and R.C. discuss the Synagogue...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Deadpool 2 Vinyl Giveaway!

We are giving away a copy of Deadpool 2 Score Soundtrack on...

Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

%d bloggers like this: