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OSS 117: Le Caire, Nid d'Espions

OSS 117 - Cairo: Nest of Spies
OSS 117 - Der Spion der sich liebte

France 2006
produced by
Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer, Sarim Fassi (executive) for Gaumont, Mandarin Films, M6 Films, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Artémis
directed by Michel Hazanavicius
starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Aure Atika, Philippe Lefebvre, Youssef Hamid, Arsène Mosca, Michael Hofland, Francois Damiens, Khalid Maadour, Constantin Alexandrov, Claude Broset, Laurent Bateau, Said Amadis, Eric Prat, Abdellah Moundy, Richard Sammel, Jean-Francois Halin, Marc Bodnar, Bernard Nissile, Alain Kouhani, Diego Dieng, Mouloud Ikhaddelene, Chouki Gtari, Hafid F. Benamar, Hassan Chabaki, Johannes Oliver Hamm, Hedi Naili, Jean-Mari Paris, Laura Schiffman, Roger To Thanh Hien
scenario by Jean-Francois Halin, adaption and dialogue by Jean-Francois Halin, Michel Hazanavicius, based on characters created by Jack Bruce, music by Ludovic Bource, Kamel Ech-Cheik

OSS 117

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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1955: Secret agent OSS 117 (Jean Dujardin) is called to Cairo, Egypt, to investigate the disappearance of fellow agent and best friend Jack Jefferson (Philippe Lefebvre) and put a halt to a gunrunning operation. Now OSS 117 hasn't got the first idea about Egyptian culture, so he makes a total fool of himself pretty much wherever he goes, but he's got a pretty Egyptian assistant, Larmina (Bérénice Bejo), who saves his ass quite a few times when he doesn't even deserve it and despite he insults her culture every step along the way.

Despite his rather poor disguise as chicken farmer, OSS 117 eventually manages to attract and defeat quite a number of baddies, including Nazis and Muslim extremists, before he's brought face to face with the man running the gunrunning outfit: Jack Jefferson, who has faked his own death and chose his second career as a villain to get even with OSS 117, who always treated him as nothing more than a neglectable sidekick.

Ultimately, everything ends happily for OSS 117 and Larmina though.

 

Both in books and on the big screen (not the small screen mind you), OSS 117 predated the most famous of all secret agents James Bond by a handful of years, so it might (or might not) seem fitting that he would eventually end up being the central character of a spoof of Eurospy cinema from the 1950's and 60's.

The resulting film is definitely not without its charms, aesthetically, it does certainly manage to recreate the atmosphere of the movies of old, many plottwists and the like seem to have been pulled right out of vintage pulps, and the actors are doing their best to fall in line with the requirements of their roles - and yet, OSS 117: Caire, Nid d'Espions simply isn't a very good film. Basically the whole thing isn't very funny, the humour lacks subtlety and is a bit on the repetitive side, the story lacks proper buildup and thus the plottwists often seem to be pulled out of the hat rather than anything else, and the portrayal of OSS 117 as a dim-witted and politically incorrect nincompoop gets tiring after a while.

The film's still good for the occasional chuckle, mind you, and Eurospy fans will want to see it because of tons of injokes and the like ... but as a whole, it's just not a very good movie.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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