Film Review – The Catcher Was a Spy (2018)

Title – The Catcher Was a Spy (2018)

Director – Ben Lewin (The Sessions)

Cast – Paul Rudd, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Strong, Connie Nielsen

Plot – The true story of baseball player turned spy Moe Berg (Rudd) who during World War 2 was sent on a secret mission to Europe to uncover some potentially life-changing scientific operations being undertaken by the Germans.

“You’re an unusual man Mr. Berg”

Review by Eddie on 19/11/2019

On paper everything about The Catcher Was a Spy appears to be in place to deliver a standout dramatic movie experience.

We’ve got a talented director in the form of Ben Lewin (of The Sessions fame), beloved comedic actor Paul Rudd getting his trenchcoat on and going into serious mode and the true story of American baseball player turned undercover spy Moe Berg as its narrative driver but everything can’t combine its elements here to become the film it had the chance to be.

Coming and going in other territories towards the end of last year, Catcher came and went with very little fanfare considering its got an intriguing true life story at its core but after finally finding its way onto Australian shelves in the last few months, it’s not hard to see why so many felt cold towards Lewin’s film, that suffers from a severe lack of heart, soul or thrills as Rudd does his best to reign in his usual shtick to deliver a true everyman performance.

His got a lot of support around him with the likes of Sienna Miller, Paul Giamatti, Jeff Daniels, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Strong all showing up for moments within the film but Lewin and screenwriter Robert Rodat are unable to unlock the mysterious Berg in a way that allows us any significant insight into his mindset or motivations, as he leaves his career in baseball during World War 2 on a quest to discover more about famed scientist Werner Heisenberg’s work in the nuclear field.

There’s barely a single scene in Catcher that gets any type of blood racing, no real sense of danger or threat and the friendships and romances that are scattered through Berg’s life at the time don’t inspire much from the viewer eithe,r with the film feeling more like a procession of box ticking rather than a lived in and alive examination of one of America’s most intriguing sporting figures of the World War 2 period.

Diehard war genre fans may find more to enjoy from Catcher than casual filmgoers, while baseball fans may get a kick out of seeing how one of the game’s most memorable characters lived out an extra ordinary life but for the rest of us, Catcher remains a watchable but totally forgettable experience that squanders a great cast and loaded story in a criminally bland fashion.

Final Say –

It’s great to see Paul Rudd stretch his acting muscles in a different style of film but The Catcher Was a Spy is a dull true life drama that dropped the ball in its telling of a captivating real life story.

2 trenchcoat’s out of 5  

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