The Avengers (1998)

Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Starring: Ralph Feinnes, Sean Connery, Uma Thurman, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Izzard
Music: Joel McNeely
‘Avengers Theme’ by Laurie Johnson
Song ‘Hurricane’ performed by Grace Jones

You know I loved the original Avengers TV series – c’mon, we all do!. It is with a heavy heart that I report that The Avengers movie is a major disappointment. All the ingredients are there for the film to work. The film has a great cast. Ralph Fiennes fills the bowler hat rather well, and few actresses could fill the black leather catsuit as curvaceously as Uma Thurman. Sean Connery is Sir August DeWinter, the villain of the piece. And thankfully the film-makers haven’t tried to Americanise The Avengers. Everything is very British: – ‘Bowler Hats’, ‘Afternoon Tea’, ‘Red London Double Decker Buses’, sporty ‘E-type Jaguars’. All but Union Jack underwear. So where did this film go wrong?

In practically every department. Ralph Fiennes fills the bowler hat well, but seems to lack the joie de vivre that Patrick Macnee displayed. But Fiennes, out of all the actors in this film, comes off the least unscathed. Uma Thurman looks great, but she is terrible in the role. I realise Dame Diana is a tough act to follow, but Uma is ice cold in this performance. I never thought I say that Sean Connery is simply awful in a movie. Sure he’s been in bad movies, but he is usually the best thing in them – for example Meteor, Zardoz and Highlander 2! But in The Avengers Connery reaches a new low. I guess a large proportion of the blame should go to the script writers who had him mouth lines like, ‘I enjoy a good lashing before teatime’. So despite the great cast in this film, nearly all of them give the worst performances of their lives.

The next big mistake the film-makers made is that they couldn’t decide if they were making a few set in the sixties, with all the mod fashion that goes with it, or making a new updated version of The Avengers for a new younger generation. Instead we got a film that hard back to the sixties, but has all these dreadful high tech gizmos and display screens.

The overall look of the film is rather gloomy, despite it’s mod sensibilities. In it’s defence, the story is about the ‘weather’ and ‘storms’ but even then, all the interiors are grey and dark.

The story is a bit of a muddle too, but it does feature some ‘Avengers’ moments, that could have almost been lifted from the sixties series, but in the futuristic setting they look wrong, or simply don’t work.

The plot concerns the theft of the Ministry Of Defence’s Prospero weather shield. The main suspect is Dr. Emma Peel, due to the fact the have video footage of her committing the crime. She claims to be innocent, and is teamed up with secret agent John Steed to find out who the true culprit is. Their investigations lead them to eccentric recluse, Sir August De Winter.

Their are rumours that a better ‘director’s cut’ of this film exists, but as the film did so poorly, there are no current plans to release it. Who knows – over a passage of time, it may one day see the light. But I don’t hold much hope of it even being significantly better. There are simply too many things wrong with this film, and most criminally of all is it lacks that humour, and I’ll use the term again, the ‘joie de vivre’ that the original television series had. I hate to say this, but I wouldn’t bother tracking this down. If you need an Avengers fix, go back to the originals.

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