a critiQal film review The Avengers (1998)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: John Steed (Fiennes) works for a secret branch of the British government called The Ministry. When a secret government project code-named Prospero is sabotaged, and cameras catch a glimpse of ex-Prospero scientist Emma Peel (Thurman), Steed is partnered with Mrs. Peel in an attempt to prove her innocence and uncover what nefarious schemes the real villain has in store.

580 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 54s)
  • ...Ralph and Uma's team could have worked if they weren't drowned in such a mess of a film - and Connery's villain is just plain embarrassing.

I know, some of you might be wondering why, when there are so many films available to watch instantly via our new subscription to NetFlix®, why am I picking such, well, cheesy films like Striking Distance (1993), or the latest, The Avengers? Honestly, since we are missing a lot of the high-octane popcorn flicks that are swarming into theaters right now (thanks to a very limited budget), I’m just craving some mindless action.

Since The A-Team (2010) appeased that somewhat this past weekend, I opted for a bit more comedy in my next pick with The Avengers. I’d missed this one back when it was released, and since I never saw the television show it’s based on, had no idea what to expect.

Would The Avengers be worth a chuckle amidst the action, or would I start sensing a pattern when it came to NetFlix® streaming movies?

Ralph Fiennes, who viewers have recently gotten more used to as Lord Voldemort in films like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), looks dapper and stereotypically British as he enters the screen as super spy John Steed. Using his cane to great effect, he charms the viewer with his cool exterior. Sadly, after a satisfactory introduction, Fiennes’ charm wears off considerably as his John Steed is bested by every opponent he encounters – evoking more of a picture of Mr. Bean than James Bond, despite his cool.

Uma Thurman, on the other hand, is just plain miscast. While she excelled in the grittier Kill Bill films, her she brings a ridiculous upturn of her nose to a character that not only is trying to prove her innocence but is supposedly the novice of the pair when it comes to the spy biz.

The two of them do have a bit of chemistry together, but as the plot becomes more and more muddled – as if the film is delivering the frequent knockout blows to the viewer rather than the on-screen characters – their chemistry is lost amidst the vague chaos.

Sean Connery, by this point, is probably chagrined at his part in this farce of a film. Rocking out in a kilt, Connery brings the mad scientist to a preachy and rather unexciting new level, as he tries to portray a calm lunatic. A walking contradiction, his character comes off as unbelievable and downright silly as can be expected.

The plot itself is a muddled mess. Full of glaring holes (why would a secret agency send a scientist, supposedly untrained in any type of spy agent procedure, to prove her own innocence?), the film falls apart even further when the old standby, controlling the weather, comes into play. Almost laughably bad, the plot will evoke more than a few groans from the audience – and the sad attempts at spicing up the dialogue with snappy one-liners will evoke a few more.

At one point during The Avengers, we get a peek at a secret corporation meeting taking place where, supposedly to maintain their anonymity, everyone is dressed in neon, fluffy, teddy bear costumes – complete with giant stuffed heads. When the teddy bear at the head of the table pulls off his plush head and reveals Sean Connery’s visage underneath, you won’t be surprised.

That’s how bad The Avengers is – even when a veteran actor like Sean Connery is forced into a neon teddy bear suit, the viewer isn’t surprised at how low the film has sunk to generate a laugh. Or how unsuccessful it is even then.

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