Get Smart

A lot of the criticism of Get Smart – the Steve Carell / Anne Hathaway spy comedy – is that it doesn’t live up to the original tv series. But having never seen the tv show, I’ve no idea what they’re talking about. All I have to go on is a smileworthy movie with likeable stars (though hardly exuding crackling chemistry – inspite of the plastic surgery sub-plot she seems about a decade too young for him) and a thoroughly silly but happy plot.

Carell plays Maxwell Smart, a data analyst for a top secret government agency called CONTROL. Think Andy Stitzer with better gadgets. Following an attack on CONTROL’s hideaway HQ, the identities of all its agents are collectively compromised, meaning that the earnest Max is finally called upon to enter the field. I’m not really sure what happens next, but there’s a lot of explosions, funny dancing, some sky diving, and some hammy bad guys. Teamed with the beautiful Agent 99 (Hathaway) they trek to Russia on something of a goosechase (Red Square looks nice though) and end up at the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, where a nuclear bomb’s timed to go off in the last few bars of Ode to Joy. Oh joy.

Undeniably daft. But what a remarkable looking building is the Disney Hall – it’s like the shed skin of the slimy monster in Deep Rising. Who knew?

Hitman

As a Film Commissioner, I only ever went on set about three times (always too busy, and besides, you’re kind of in the way……) and when I did it was usually part of the whole dog-and-pony show, trying to impress upon legislators just how many jobs were being created by the production. One of those set visits was to Catch and Release, a dull little tale set in Boulder, Colorado (but mostly filmed in Vancouver) about a woman whose fiance is killed on the way to the wedding, and who subsequently falls for the dead guy’s best friend. The best friend was skinny Timmy Olyphant, who’d never really impressed me much previously but was, I have to grudgingly admit, absolutely spectacular in person.

I mention this because we saw Hitman last night. (OK, so you can clearly tell I’m on a roll when it comes to dodgy movies at the moment; we’ve really been packin’ ’em in recently.)

Hitman is based on that Playstation game, so there’s a lot of running up corridors looking over the top of someone’s head; the plot is basically gun-heavy and irony-light. Tim is bald, too, which is an unfortunate look. But I have to say I was quite impressed by some of the production values; it has the look and feel of a much more substantial film, and the sound track is reminiscent of the Bourne movies. So not too dreadful, all in all.

Hitman is set in St. Petersburg and Istanbul, but it’s filmed predominately in Bulgaria. Surprise surprise, though, the production’s second unit shot in Cape Town. Who knew? I’m now wracking my brains, trying to recall exactly which bits might have been shot here (the Niger scenes perhaps??……) and wishing I’d been paying a little more attention……