Less raucous than Cairo, Nest of Spies, this new adventure for the suave but bigoted French super-agent is still extremely good fun, with its amusing script, hilarious characters and astonishingly detailed production design.
It's 1967, and Hubert (Dujardin), aka secret agent OSS 117, is assigned to make contact with an ex-Nazi (Vogler) hiding in Rio with some incriminating microfilm. Reconnecting with his old CIA pal Bill (Samuels) and dodging Chinese hitmen from his last job, Hubert teams up with sexy Mossad agent Dolores (Monot) to travel with the Nazi's hippie son (Lutz) from Rio into the Amazon and to Iguacu Falls. But treachery awaits them at every turn, not to mention a buxom seductress (Kherici) and hungry crocodile.
Shot and edited exactly like a 1960s movie, it's almost hard to believe that it wasn't made back then, especially as the filmmakers weave in stock footage that perfectly matches visually. It looks absolutely amazing, and is infused with the attitudes of the period as well, most notably Hubert's cave-man opinions on race, gender and everything else. For such a suave, smart spy, Hubert is hilariously stupid. And Dujardin plays him dead straight, wonderfully combining the slapstick and sexiness, without ever going over the top.
Even so, the film feels muted, never really cutting loose into all-out comedy.
Each scene has smile-inducing details--tiny observations, glaring references, goofy silliness--but there's never an actual set piece, as it were. And much of the comedy centres on misguided attitudes about World War II, even though Hubert's politically incorrect comments are clearly unacceptable even then.
Director Hazanavicius even stirs in several amusing Hitchcock references along the way.
But the real reason to see the film is Dujardin; we can't help but love this naive Mr Cool. Bullets seem unable to touch him, huge accidents only leave tiny scratches and women fall at his feet ("Some people have adventures; I am an adventure"). His earnest speeches about creating a world based on love, not war, are laughed at. And he's so dim that the villain has to explain his nefarious plan in detail twice. Which is pretty funny, really.