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  Spy Time Espionage Espana
Year: 2015
Director: Javier Ruiz Caldera
Stars: Imanol Arias, Quim Guttiérez, Alexandra Jiménez, Berto Romero, Carlos Areces, Eduardo Gómez, Dani El Rojo, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Rossy De Palma, Silvia Abril, José Corbacho, Andreu Buenafuente, Toni Sevilla, Gilbert Bosch, Zhi Qihui
Genre: Comedy, Action, Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Anacleto (Imanol Arias) is probably Spain's greatest secret agent, not that many in his native land are aware of the endeavours he undertakes for them. Currently he is in the Middle East, heading towards a high security prison where most of the evildoers he has come up against in his career have been incarcerated, but he is there to see one man: Vazquez (Carlos Areces), who he has always considered his greatest foe. However, when they meet again, face to face in the criminal's cell, Anacleto soon realises he has been duped as when he takes him out to the van for a transfer to a Spanish prison, two of Vazquez's henchmen mess up his plans and set their boss free to sin again...

To make matters worse, the mastermind has one thought uppermost in his mind, which is to not only kill Anacleto, but kill his son first to make his rival truly suffer. As if that were not complicated enough, the spy has been more or less estranged from his son since he left home, and now Adolfo (the unusually-named Quim Guttiérez) is a thirtysomething waster in a dead end job with a girlfriend, Katia (Alexandra Jiménez), who wishes to leave him for a more exciting existence as a care worker in India. Adolfo has nowhere to go but up from there, but has no idea about his father's double life (secret agent, see? Emphasis on "secret") until a Chinese martial artist appears.

In his apartment, that is, in the middle of the night as he sleeps on his beloved sofa having been kicked out of bed by Katia earlier on. As you may have guessed, this was a spoof of James Bond that contrasted the exotic spy business with the mundanity of a poor schlub who never thought he would make anything of his time on Earth and found it preferable to sit around watching movies and eating pizza instead. The film saw this as a call to action and determined to shake up its hero's days by planting him right in the middle of the sort of entertainment that he would much prefer to be watching instead of acting out as a participant, and there lay the source of the humour, such as it was.

Although this was familiar to anyone who had seen Sacha Baron Cohen's Grimsby which was made around the same time, this was less inclined towards the gross-out humour, though not entirely above it, it had to be noted: how funny you found a woman being stabbed in the eye was questionable, for example. But that was not to say there were no laughs, there were some smart lines ("Did Gandhi leave his boyfriend by the roadside?!") and a smattering of violent slapstick that tickled the funny bone, though it had to be said it was not absolutely hilarious in the way that the Jean Dujardin O.S.S. 117 parodies were. Not far off, though, and once father and son had teamed up there was a not half bad thriller plot to be appreciated, albeit not on the budget of something like the Bond it sent up.

In fact, the Anacleto character was about as old as 007, for he had been created as a comic strip by Manuel Vázquez (yes, he named his protagonist's arch-enemy after himself) and had proved extremely popular in Spain as he highlighted all the absurdities of the spy genre. Surprisingly, this was the first time since the strip's inception that there had been a screen adaptation of the material, as not even in the heyday of the Eurospy movie back in the sixties was there any move to create a spin-off. This managed to do Anacleto justice to an extent, though it was plain to see that the inclusion of a hitherto unmentioned son was a try at updating it with a more modern awareness than the straightforward espionage lampoon the original had been, and what eventually happens to the ageing hero was perhaps shooting itself in the foot if it wanted to create a faithful franchise out of this. The worries over children letting down parents and vice versa added a little depth but might not have been necessary anyway. Still, a perfectly reasonable effort. Music by Javier Rodero.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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