World leaders are assassinated by mysterious grey-skinned men in business suits and sunglasses. A secret agent is brought out of retirement to track down the evil genius who is responsible.
Disappointing and mundane James Bond spoof that never establishes a sufficiently quirky tone or offbeat sensibility. Surprising, considering it was directed by Euro-low-budget auteur Jess (Jesús) Franco. In a career spanning almost 60 years and 203 directing credits, his output varied wildly in quality, from skin flicks such as ‘The Lustful Amazons’ (1974) to critically admired ‘art horror’ like ‘Vampyros Lesbos’ (1972). He’s credited with 11 releases in 1971 alone!
The film’s star is cult French actor Eddie Constantine (who played a similar role in Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville’ (1965) the same year). He’s our 007 substitute, Al Peterson, and his deadpan delivery is easily the best thing on show. Predictably for a Franco flick, he’s ably supported by some fine eye candy, in the form of Françoise Brion and Mara Laso and the villainous Fernando Ray is also good value. But, unfortunately, the talented cast can’t overcome a lacklustre script (co-authored by Franco) and a saggy second act which tries the patience.
It’s a shame as there are promising, if not particularly original, elements on display such as mind control by sunglasses. Plenty of fisticuffs and lots of gunplay are present and correct, but it’s all falls a bit flat, and the lack of action set pieces makes it hard for the picture to grab the attention. That was probably down to the limited budget available but, in that scenario, then the audience needs something else to hang onto, and there’s precious little intrigue and mystery to provide it. The title also must have left paying customers feeling a little short changed.
An English-speaking audience is also not assisted by the atrocious dubbing, which is slapdash at best. Curiously, it was filmed in colour, but only released in black and white, possibly due to the increased negative costs involved, as opposed to the likely profit to be realised.
It’s a disappointing picture overall, with nothing to distinguish it from the ten a penny Bond knockoffs and spoofs that were infesting the European film industry at the time. And it’s more than a little dull.