I Spy (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Cole
Director: Betty Thomas

Alex (Owen Wilson) is a newly promoted American secret intelligence agent, with a not so impressive past record of case solving. He also has a major lack of self-confidence while Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) is the undisputed, undefeated boxing champion of the world and seems to have all that he could ever desire but is still lacking something.

Alex is assigned a mission, to recover a stolen US government stealth plane that is about to be sold to the highest bidder by ruthless arms dealer Gundars (Malcolm McDowell) who has cleverly disguised his auction as a pre-boxing match party for Kelly Robinson in Turkey, where Kelly is due to fight the European champion. The US Government arranges for Alex and his co-agent Rachel (Famke Janssen) to go undercover as Kelly’s aides at the party. Initially Kelly and Alex do not see eye to eye on anything, but after a near death experience they bond and work together to solve the case while dealing with their own issues at the same time.

Despite both Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson’s well-delivered performances their characters are just not developed to their full potential. Famke Janssen is good in her supporting role and provides a good balance of sexual and intellectual thrills, but unfortunately though Malcolm McDowell is convincingly menacing as the merciless arms dealer, his character is again under developed.

I SPY is supposed to be a movie version of the famous TV series of the same name but there are too many differences in the basic premise of the film for this to be a proper movie version. As a movie in it’s own right the direction is too soft, the action scenes too light and as mentioned the main characters under developed probably due to the scriptwriters and the director.

So once again we have a good idea that was hatched prematurely and not properly thought out but that said it’s still worth seeing mainly for the poorly utilised but excellent performers.

3 out of 6 stars