The Monday post-mortem after this heavily-hyped fledgling franchise failed to fly must have been brutal for execs @ Warner Bros. Who to blame? Stars unable to open a film? Political intrigue, fashion & style from the ‘60s without a target audience? Not enough CGI action? Too much CGI action? Actually, the answer is staring right at you; or is about halfway in, when a chase sequence gives way to a neat set piece involving a trapped speedboat, a factory truck and a nighttime snack. Suddenly, Guy Ritchie’s over-busy megging settles in for a slightly absurd, yet just believable, action sequence that plays out in its own good time & terms. Then, for a couple of reels or so, events run the show and we’re allowed to watch them unfold. Briefly, the film blooms into just the sort of dapper spy action yarn it seems to be aiming at. The basic idea not so much to revive the old Spy vs Spy tv series, but to go back to the days when James Bond & his ilk were less dour & more fun. Think THUNDERBALL/’65.* But too soon, everyone again starts pushing movie-star entitlement coolness at us (note the poster; is there anything less cool, than announcing you’re cool?), plus the film & cast catch a terrible case of the cutes. You’re left yawning; noting how unexpectedly short Henry Cavill looks as American agent Napoleon Solo; how uncomfortably tall Russkie agent Armie Hammer is; and that Hugh Grant pops up in a role once played by 78 yr-old Leo G. Carroll . . . and you get horribly depressed.
DOUBLE-BILL: *Might as well revisit THUNDERBALL, to see the sort of snazzy glam they’re shooting for. Just be aware it’s also the movie where the James Bond Bloat began.