I Spy

4 out of 10


Low Budget, Mass-Produced Spy Spoof

It`s interesting to note how time can so change the world, particularly the world of entertainment. I dearly remember as a child in the 1960`s, being fascinated watching Lucile Ball do a spy spoof on her show, "I Love Lucy". In an era when Chubby Broccoli had turned James Bond into a production-line and Cold War thrillers were all the rage, it was Maxwell Smart talking to his shoe that really drew the memorable laughs. Likewise, I can vividly recall in the 1980`s when Eddie Murphy first brought "Axel Foley" to life in "Beverley Hills Cop". Apparantly blazing a path for other black American comics, Axel was highly entertaining as the fast-talking and arrogant, unorthodox player who was permanently going into emotional explosions every time things went wrong. In this era, if it was an Eddie Murphy film, that was where you took your girlfriend as it was sure to provide a great evening of entertainment.

Now, at a time of unparralleled peace between the Superpowers, we have entered a post-modern time where every other film seems to be an annoying espionnage send-up like "I-Spy" and Eddie Murphy has become synonymous with cheap B Movies that are fortunate even to see general release. Coupled with Alex Scott, played by the ubiquitous Owen Wilson who is permanently in the role of would-be cool player and sidekick, Kelly Robinson, a World Class Boxer (Eddie Murphy), finds himself as the wide-eyed, clueless hero, as always in these films, dragged reluctantly into the familiar world of mandatory gadgets, sultry temptresses, car chases and assassins. Ranged against them is Arnold Gunders, played sadly by an aging Malcolm MacDowell whose own career has, like Murphy`s, seen better days. Gone is the time when he was once the wild-boy thug icon in Stanley Kubrick`s "Clockwork Orange", and has long since plummeted to playing off-the-shelf villains in cheap B Movies for the price of a new walking frame.

By giving Murphy a free-hand to adlib rather than sticking religiously to his fixed lines, we can sometimes catch a glimse of his former glory, but one has to ask just why he needed the money so badly to find himself in this junk. Although the setting in Hungary has architecture that is pleasant enough, it screams as being an appeasement to the accountants at Sony HQ. Indeed, clearly being a film that consists of a set of stale comedy routines, usually involving crude slapstick, justified by violent, but predictable, plot shifts, it remains one that has little to offer.

Take the hints of extreme low budget and miss

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett