Review by Katherine Kaminsky
IF YOU'RE hoping to see a movie of the popular TV series, I-Spy, starring
Bill Cosby and Robert Culp, which was ground-breaking at the time for having
a black actor in a lead role, then go buy the box set, which is available
now on DVD. This film resembles the original only in name, but still manages
a few laughs.
It stars Eddie Murphy as Kelly Robinson, a world champion middleweight boxer spoilt by his own celebrity, and Owen Wilson, as the endearingly bumbling special agent Alex Scott.
Scott is treated like a second-rate spy by his superiors, constantly outshone by the super-smooth and very popular agent Carlos (Gary Cole), until he is given a prestigious assignment, to locate a highly sophisticated stealth aircraft, dubbed 'the switchblade', which has fallen into the hands of the nefarious Arnold Gundars (Malcolm McDowell), an arms dealer who has agreed to sell the plane to Zhu Tam (Dana Lee), a terrorist whose intention is to nuke Washington.
Boxing champion, Robinson, is personally asked by the president to cover agent Scott at a celebrity boxing event thrown by Gundars, so as to deflect attention while Scott completes his mission of locating the plane.
But can this unlikely duo be relied upon to successfully complete the task?
If you are sick of myth, magic and gang fights, this very silly comedy, directed by Betty Thomas, could be the antidote you need.
Murphy is at his best when allowed full reign, inspiring more comedy than the four scriptwriters manage to muster for the rest of the film, while Wilson holds his own in a role that could so easily be over-shadowed and the two play off each other very well, creating some very amusing moments.
There's a worthy nod to Cyrano de Bergerac as Scott tries to seduce his beloved Rachel (Famke Janssen) with a little help from Marvin Gaye and an entertaining scene in a sewer, after too much methane gas has been inhaled.
Janssen, best known for her role as Xenia Onatopp in the James Bond film Goldeneye, plays yet another ball-breaker but does inject some style into an otherwise predictable story. However, Malcolm McDowell as the token Brit baddy is shamelessly under-used.
If this mission is to create a few laughs, then Murphy and Wilson complete the task - but groundbreaking this is not.