Screenwriters: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, Dwayne Johnson
Running Time: 110 mins
Following the recent trend of remaking 1960s television shows, Get Smart arrives on our screens with an impressive cast but ultimately fails to provide enough thrills or laughs. A handful of decent gags and a couple of set pieces are simply not enough to constitute an 'action comedy'.
The always watchable Steve Carell, deploying his usual shouty delivery, plays bungling secret agent Maxwell Smart of crime-fighting organisation Control, whose headquarters are attacked by the evil terrorist group Kaos. As many field agents are out of commission due to the attack, Smart is thrown into the deep end and is reluctantly joined by the uber-confident and experienced Agent 99 (the versatile Anne Hathaway). Their mission is to thwart a Kaos bomb, weed out a traitor in their midst and negotiate several macabre incidents too.
In the post-Austin Powers era, spy spoofs face a massive task to avoid falling flat. A big budget ensures Get Smart looks suitably hi-tech, and several early scenes bode well for a cracking experience. A pure slapstick sequence set in an aeroplane toilet, in which Smart repeatedly impales himself with his gadgets, is hilarious, while a very unorthodox skydive fight scene is packed full of tension and laughter. It also contains a very unexpected and inspired snog. Sadly, from then on the film struggles to maintain the right tone.
Crucially, Get Smart tries to remove its tongue from its cheek at increasingly regular intervals in a bid to give the action and romance more of a dramatic punch as the film drags on. Bad move. In particular, the classical concert-based finale eschews any Naked Gun-style pratfalls and attempts to make the bomb plot very real indeed - and seriously fails to instill any sense of jeopardy.
In a similar vein, the ongoing romantic intrigue between Smart and Agent 99 doesn't ring true and appears to be there due to the scriptwriters' ticking off an action comedy formula checklist. Thankfully, they ticked the right box in the Star Cameo section, as Bill Murray and James Caan liven up proceedings momentarily.
Get Smart certainly has its moments, but suffers badly from an inability to balance the surreal humour and life-threatening terrorist threat. What starts off as an initially enjoyable escapist flick gradually turns into a movie that will have you plotting escape routes out of the cinema long before the credits start to roll.
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