'The Avengers' Review: Oh Sean Connery...
I've seen The Avengers more times than I can count. I used to watch this movie all the time back on VHS when I was growing up and I remember really liking it. I didn't realize growing up that the film was based off the popular British television show of the same name though. However, revisiting it almost 16 years later, this movie is bizarre and disjointed. It squanders three immensely talented actors in roles that serve as nothing more than to deliver cheesy one-liners that warrant an eye roll every time they say one. The scene pictured above should clue you in as to the kind of movie you're getting yourself into: one that has no idea what it wants to be or where it wants to go.
The plot of The Avengers is strange to say the least: Sean Connery plays August De Wynter, a former Ministry agent, who builds a machine that can control the weather and plans to use it for nefarious means. Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman play John Steed and Emma Peel who are sent to take down Connery in stylish fashion. The plot seems right out of Austin Powers yet the film doesn't fully embrace the humor of the film, it seems to try and play up the camp more. There were some opportunities to really play into the campy aspect of the original film while keeping the suspenseful nature of the subject matter but it never works.
It's too bad that the film doesn't take advantage of such top class actors such as Connery and Fiennes; they are given only one liners as their primary form of dialogue. One liners are fine when done correctly (see James Bond) but when every one liner is followed by an actor mugging for the camera, it feels cheap. Connery is a talented actor and there is seemingly no reason as to why he accepted the role in this film. He hams it up for most of the film, spouting off weather themed one liners that mirror Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman and Robin. Its disappointing seeing an actor of Connery's caliber relegated to a cartoonish weather fanatic. However, it is awesome to see him in a bear costume.
Fiennes and Thurman don't do a very good job of carrying the film as Steed and Peel however. It's too bad because Ralph Fiennes is believable as John Steed and it's different to see him in a comedic role since that isn't what he's known for. He has too many one liners but many of them are very Bond-esque. Fiennes would have been a suitable Bond had Brosnan not been cast in the mid 90s. Uma Thurman is flat and exists for the eye candy alone. Her character is as bad as her performance in Batman and Robin which isn't surprising. I don't believe Uma Thurman is a very talented actress, her only role of note being in Kill Bill which benefits more from Tarantino than anything else. Thurman is utterly unforgettable.
The real issue with this movie, which I found out afterwards through further reading, is continuity. Through further reading I found out that the film was edited down from 115 minutes to 85, a 30 minute cut which is a sizable amount of time and plot. According to the director, the content that was cut would have filled in many of the glaring plot holes, referenced events that we never see take place, and would have actually given the characters some depth. It's unfortunate there were such drastic cuts in time to The Avengers as it may have resulted in a better film. We will never know though since Fox has refused to allow Jeremiah Chechik to even go back and re-edit the film for a director's cut. It's a shame but Fox has the final say in the matter unfortunately.
The Avengers is a jumbled mess that was hurt by the studio's hand. It could have been a campy send-up of the original Avengers show. Instead, it falls flat and is all over the place both with story and tonally. The only good thing to come out of this film is seeing Sean Connery in a Grateful Dead bear costume. It's absurd and hilarious and the almost low point of Connnery's career if not for this. Watch The Avengers if you want to see Sean Connery set new lows for himself, if not, skip it.
Final Say: Skip It Since You've Already Seen the Best Scene