It's no definitive masterpiece but it's damn close.
good back-story, and good acting
It’s not bad or unwatchable but despite the amplitude of the spectacle, the end result is underwhelming.
But unfortunately it's presented in a boring movie!Actually this film is worth watching for the story/plot but it never reaches the level of entertaining until the last 15 or 20 minutes. If you bother to watch this movie you will understand.Possibly miscast with Paul Rudd as "Moe Berg" may be the problem here. There is more needed character development missing. In my mind I think Rudd could have given this character more substance with a better script. But sadly this is missing!
What comes to mind when we talk about a spy films? Something like Mission Impossible, James Bond or a little different ones like Salt, Red Sparrow and so on... ?Well there is a basic difference between spy fiction and the reality of spy trade-craft. Although the most exciting of the spy thrillers try to capture some of the elements of real world spying but those are mostly technical aspects which are adopted to give these movies a certain credibility; to make them believable to some extent. Spy biopics like 'The Catcher Was a Spy' are different from these spy action thrillers because the titular characters are not out there to perform stunts. They are out there to gather real and sensitive information. Information which could decide the fate of a real war and a real man's life. The thrill in this movie comes from the grand scope of the mission and the conversely understated actions of a spy so as to avoid all attention. There are no guns blazing here. This is Paul Rudd's classic regular guy performances at it's best. The real life Moe Berg was an anomaly. A sportsman with unexceptional career but a genius mind of sorts. Quite simply a good candidate for a spy in second world war but not of much use afterwards. If you are watching this movie for the spy thrills then you might be disappointed. However, if you want to get a glimpse of what an American spy must have found out after talking to people like Werner Heisenberg about the nuclear weapons program of Nazi Germany, then it might be worth it.I can compare 'The Catcher was a Spy' to a bit more contemporary spy biopic like 'Snowden'. Although completely different in tone and nature, both these spy biopics have something in common. They are about getting to know the mind of the person. Both these movies try to bring out the inner complexities of these people who are quite literally doing a job that demands them to be secretive, deceptive and yet charming.
The Catcher Was a Spy (2018) seems more concerned with making a political statement than a dramatic one, but fails to make a compelling statement of either description. Moe Berg (Paul Rudd) is a man of exceptional intellect and talents: fluent in several languages, a prodigious reader, a chess prodigy, an eidetic, a champion game show contestant (when shows were about knowledge), and a fair-to-middling professional baseball player. He's also a politically correct protagonist. He's bisexual, enabling the producers to appeal to the LGBTQIAPK community, a victim of anti-Semitism, and a pacifist. The outbreak of WWII gives Berg an opportunity to enter the social circles that had previously excluded him, due to his modest finances and Jewish heritage. The OSS needs linguists and Berg is able to leverage his skills into a position as an intelligence analyst, despite his Jewish heritage and sexual orientation. Ultimately, Berg is confronted with a moral decision. His orders are clear. Will he mindlessly obey or will he RESIST? Will he tear open his shirt to reveal a decidedly anachronistic "Hillary for America" T-shirt? His ultimate decision is broadcast well in advance. There is little soul-searching and no decisive actions in the earlier scenes to establish his willingness, commitment, courage or ability to act otherwise. Consequently, the film offers no compelling moral, political statement, ethical quandary or dramatic experience. Paul Rudd delivers a credible performance as a sexually ambivalent intellectual. Guy Pierce sheds his accent to sound like an authentic American. Paul Giamatti is credible as a German Jew. The settings, costumes and props seem authentic. Production values are solid. However, excessive reliance on jiggly-cam shots constantly disrupt the audience's willful suspension of disbelief, reminding them that they are viewing the action through a hand-held camera. The title could be stronger. Berg doesn't engage in officially-sanctioned espionage activities while engaged as a ball player, although he voluntarily collects some information and gives it to an intelligence officer. It's not really an action film, although there is a battle scene. It isn't very suspenseful. There isn't nearly as much intelligence gathering and analysis as there is in Spy Game or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Part of the problem is that Berg never confronts an enemy, much less fight his way through a hierarchy of increasingly capable and dangerous adversaries to a final one-on-one conflict. There are Nazis out there, somewhere, and they're trying to build a weapon of mass destruction. Although no coherent parallels are drawn to Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-Un, some doubt they pose an immediate risk of success. The film is watchable but not exciting, rewarding or cathartic. The end titles, which attempt to justify Berg's choice, serve as mute testament to the film's failure to convey a complete story. In real life, Berg was given an additional assignment by the CIA, but provided no valuable intelligence. He lived out his twilight years in obscurity as an affable mooch.
It's hard to resist the baseball metaphors... For me the film never quite made it. It was certainly interesting enough, as Moe Berg was an interesting, multi-faceted person, but as a film, it was a bit flat and not hard hitting enough. I wondered whether it was because of Paul Rudd playing Berg; especially once Paul Giamatti was introduced I kept half-expecting them to start doing comedy, as they have together previously. In general I found the acting to be underwhelming, though as I often do, I'm not sure whether the cause of this was the acting or the script itself. Ironically, one of the reasons I watched it at all was because of the cast. I generally totally enjoy Paul Rudd and find Giamatti to be an excellent actor. Somehow the moderacy of the script didn't allow for them, especially Rudd, to transcend his pleasing, affable persona.