Remember the old James Bond movies, the ones that featured
tongue-in-cheek bravado? The more
recent Bond movies have ditched the campy humor and gone for the hard-edged
heroes and the adrenalin rush chase scenes.
But stepping into the void of adventure with a sense of humor is
Bruce Willis plays Frank, an ex-CIA operative who’s trying to retire.
We find him in Costco with his lovely bride, Sarah (Mary-Louse Parker),
trying to decide about window washing solvents.
A sudden visit from his old buddy Marvin (John Malkovich, who’s great
at ironic mugging) about how badly they’re still needed in the espionage
field doesn’t convince our determined slacker Frank, but the explosion that
destroys Marvin’s truck in the parking lot does.
There’s somebody after them, and it’s time to strap on the secret
Except that there’s nothing very slick or scary about this trio.
Sarah keeps wanting to tag along, Frank is afraid she’ll get hurt,
and Marvin’s caught in the middle, rolling his eyes at the vagaries of
working relationships, from the vantage point of the interested spectator.
This also allows some casual repartee while the bad guys swing into
Yes, there’s a plot, sort of. It
seems a nuclear bomb was smuggled into the Kremlin during the dark days of the
Cold War. Everybody wants to find
the hidden bomb, some to dismantle it and others to use it for the ultimate
terrorist attack. But the only
person who really knows where it is or how to activate it is a mad scientist
in a looney bin, Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins, who plays calculating genius
very convincingly within a broad farce barely believable).
Periodically, we’ll pause the action to paint back to comic book mode
before turning the page to the next scene, as if to remind everyone that we
have an excuse for playing caricatures. And
not taking ourselves too seriously, at the same time we’re trying to save
the world. Somehow, this
particular stellar cast of characters pulls it off.
They somehow manage to carry the flimsy plot and make us root for them
and make us chuckle at their foibles, however contrived.
Yeah, this one is just for fun. Overanalysis
will just squeeze out the charm. Just
enjoy it, try not to think too much, and pass the popcorn.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,