Agents in love
An attractive cast can’t do much with this dullsville action comedy, writes Donald Clarke
LET’S BEGIN with a minor beef. About a third of the way into this largely useless spy comedy, Reese Witherspoon, playing a smart singleton, discusses Alfred Hitchcock with Chris Pine’s cube-headed secret agent. He has recommended The Lady Vanishes. She counters that anything the director made from the late 1950s until 1972 is superior to that early film.
Are you bloody crazy? You’re saying that Topaz and Torn Curtain are both better than The Lady Vanishes? You, madam, belong in a zoo.
Anyway, these are the sorts of things that go through your head when you’re trying to stay awake during an extended MCG trailer. That economically named director has long had a reputation for editing his films with unrestrained vigour. But, on this occasion, the movie really does play like a 90-minute promo for itself.
Bathed in bright plastic colours, scored to sleazy jazz funk, This Meanswar comprises endless short scenes that never quite coalesce into a real motion picture. It is, to be fair, quite a good trailer. If I hadn’t already seen Mr Mcg’s comedy I would be greatly looking forward to its imminent release.
Pine and Tom Hardy play two tough CIA operatives. In the opening minutes, they cause some sort of inappropriate mayhem and – in a scene that suggests a parody of a parody – are forced to endure a tongue-lashing from angry boss Angela Bassett. Busted to adjacent desk jobs, the pals now have time to compete for the attentions of Ms Witherspoon.
What exactly is this film’s supposed USP? The espionage stuff is, for the first hour anyway, buried so deeply in the undergrowth that Hardy and Pine might as well be landscape gardeners. Witherspoon’s character is drawn straight from My Big Book of Doris Day Conventions. The subplot about evil Europeans would seem perfunctory in a videogame.
But wait a moment. There is definitely something interestingly odd going on between Pine (relaxed) and Hardy (miscast). They’re so scrupulously tidy. They visit elderly ladies together. They chat endlessly on the phone. One can’t help resenting this shovelchinned woman’s determination to break up such a lovely couple.
For goodness sake. She can’t even tell good Hitch from bad Hitch.