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I Spy (2002)

Espionage with attitude.

Directed by:

Betty Thomas

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 92 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

Eddie Murphy stars as professional champion boxer Kelly Robinson, a wise-cracking smart mouth with plenty of attitude. On his way to Budapest to take part in a title fight, he receives a phone call from his admirer the US President asking him to help with a top secret mission. He finds himself teamed up with Special Agent Alex Scott (Owen Wilson), a US spy whose success has been somewhat limited probably because he always gets the worst equipment while suave top spy Carlos (Gary Cole) gets all the best gadgets. Their mission in Budapest is to find a missing prototype fighter plane stolen from the US government. The Switchblade has stealth camouflage that renders it nearly invisible, even to the human eye.

No-one has any idea where the plane is hidden, but they know that it is currently in the possession of Arnold Gundars (Malcolm McDowell), a powerful arms dealer who is planning to auction it to the highest bidder – one of whom has plans to attach a nuclear warhead to it for stealthy delivery to Washington. The auction is believed to be taking place during a fancy pre-fight party in Budapest, which Scott is able to get into only as part of Robinson’s entourage. In Hungary, Scott and Robinson also have the help of femme fatale agent Rachel Wright (Famke Janssen), who Scott has fancied for a long time. However, Agent Wright has an agenda of her own and may not be all she seems. Will Scott and Robinson manage to carry out their mission successfully, or will Carlos be the hero again?

This is a fairly typical Eddie Murphy buddy spy comedy, with little in it that is new or surprising. The plot is pretty standard fare, as are the one-liners, although the action sequences are all quite sharp and the boxing scenes come across extremely well. Sadly, the humorous buddy conversation in the sewers is far too long and drawn out, stalling the film for a while before it picks up again. Eddie Murphy mostly plays himself, an act that is wearing a little thin, and Famke Janssen makes nowhere near the impact here that she does in the ‘X-Men‘ movies. Owen Wilson is probably the pick of the bunch, although he doesn’t capture the spark with Murphy that he does with Jackie Chan in the ‘Shanghai‘ films. A pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours, this film is lightweight but reasonably entertaining.

Review of I Spy on screen

It's Got: Some funny moments and decent action.

It Needs: More depth to both the story and the comedy.

DVD Extras The commentary draws together a number of those who worked on the film to provide an insight into the films creation. Extras: Filmmakers commentary, Featurettes, Theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Spies Like Us, Tomorrow Never Dies., True Lies

Summary

Fairly typical lightweight Eddie Murphy fare that fails to capture the sparkle of his early work. Funny in parts, and with occasionally good action, the film makes for a reasonably entertaining diversion.

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