‘I’ll get a load of nerve gas and spray it from my plane.’
A secret agent is sent to the West Indies after a colleague goes missing investigating the local trade in gun smuggling. When he arrives, he becomes entangled in a conspiracy involving a mysterious supervillain with some very sketchy plans to destroy America…
Dull and dreary Eurospy with U.S. actor Larry Pennell as this week’s ‘Bond on a Budget’ running around in an adventure so underwhelming that it barely deserves the name. Guns? Yes, there are some. They actually get fired on occasion. Girls? Margitta Scherr and Barbara Valentin look pretty enough, but both struggle to leave much of an impression. Gadgets? Well, Pennell has this recording apparatus which has both a transmitter, which he hides on a cargo ship, and a receiver. His boss hands this over as if it’s the most wonderful and innovative piece of new spy kit ever, which is perhaps the most puzzling plot development in the entire film.
It’s fairly obvious that we’re not exactly in for a thrill-ride from the get go. Pennell’s Agent 001 (copyright alert!) is licensed to fly, so he solos to Jamaica in a private plane. When he arrives, ground control put him in a holding pattern for absolutely no reason at all. Why? It’s a lame excuse to crowbar in the usual, aerial ‘Tourist Board’ footage and let him buzz some bikini-clad babes on a yacht. Later, he wears a bright yellow shirt at a night-time stakeout (he gets spotted!) and takes a couple of minutes to find a clue hidden under a desk blotter, when the kidnapped heroine did everything but draw him a map to it in the previous scene.
About the only bright spark here is the presence of Brad Harris playing the local police inspector who teams with Pennell. It’s basically the same role the actor played opposite Tony Kendall in the ‘Kommissar X’ series of films, although without the humour. But at least he brings some physicality and a little personality to the proceedings. To make things even worse, the dialogue in the U.S. cut could practically qualify as a dictionary definition of the word ‘generic.’
Before acting, Pennell was a professional baseball player with the Boston Braves. His acting career didn’t feature many lead roles, but a long history of supporting turns in films like ‘Bubba Ho Tep’ (2002), ‘Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn’ (1983), ‘The Space Children’ (1958) and many network TV shows. He even had a bit in Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ at the end of his career. Unfortunately, he displays so little screen presence here that the scenes where he and Harris appear together only demonstrate the fact that Harris should have been cast in the lead.
Apparently, some of the action scenes were cut for the French release. I can only think it was because there was a danger that they would send the audience to sleep.
A Eurospy best saved for a wet afternoon in February.