Time: 108 mins.
SYNOPSIS: A secret agent is called in to track down an evil cartel bent on controlling the planet by controlling its weather.
BOTTOM LINE: While not exactly a spoof of James Bond, this film, which stars its' own super spy Derek Flint (played with tongue-firmly in cheek by Coburn), is rather hard to take seriously. Think Austin Powers, but American with not as much in your face silliness or snarkiness and you have the look, plot and tone of this film. I'm sure they were going for a straight up action film with some moments of sly wit and sex appeal and on that level it sort of works; however, most of the time Coburn is too obviously enjoying being a "super man" and that makes many of the action scenes seem ridiculous instead of exciting. The character is constructed on the notion that more is better – he seems to know everything, needs no help and has not one or two, but four girlfriends – making his uber-talented spy a bit annoying and condescending. At least to me. I'm sure every man watching this film unequivocably wants to be Flint. That being said, though I've never considered Coburn to be sexy, there's something about him here that made me look at him in a different light. It's one of his first major leading roles and he's clearly enjoying the spotlight. Regardless of the absurd goings-on, he demands yours attention and with this script that star power is absolutely neccessary.
While I'm sure the idea of using "climate change" to rule the world was a new notion in the early 60s, mad scientists manipulating the weather to wreak havoc has been used so many times over the years it's hard not to laugh at the concept...even in these overtly "green" times. What is different about their ideas is that they are trying to use their power for "good", to force the nations of the world to get rid of their weapons and live in peace – with a lot of free love thrown in to fill all the hours freed up by not fighting each other. Their utopian lair built inside a defunct volcano was clearly created by men, as all the ladies are programmed to do whatever their male partners ask them to. The last third of the film where he confronts the villians was all very, very odd. There are all these different "worlds" populated with randy men and mindless women like an ancient Roman spa, an ice cave, a 60s disco and a drive-in that Flint has to navigate to find his girlfriends. Not exactly my idea of paradise... That Flint rescues his programmed ladies by whispering to them "You are not a pleasure unit" is absurd considering that's exactly what they are for him. I guess he doesn't like to share or at the very least wants his lovers to come to him by choice.
While I certainly wouldn't expect a film of this era to be PC or remotely feminist, I think certain sequences will rub modern gals without a sense of humor the wrong way. This is clearly a film made by men for men. All of the ladies, except for Gila Golan, don't have much to do but dote on Flint and look pretty. Golan at least has a part with some dialogue and a bit of personality, though she ends up in Flint's arms all the same. He does save her from a life of mindless pleasure, so I guess she owes him. I was amused by the overt sexism, but also glad I didn't have to live through that era. Cobb and Mulhare make the most of their cookie-cutter roles as Flint's unhappy boss and arch nemesis, drawing out their share of laughs. The look of the film is very dated, but also quite stylized. It's a 60s flick all the way from the poorly-crafted special effects to the day-glo clothes, jazzy music and game show-like sets. I have to admit that I chuckled every time the giant red phone rang with a call from the Oval Office. I'm not sure why. What it lacks in Bond-type slickness it makes up for with quirky charm. I can't say I loved watching this film, but I couldn't look away either, so that must count for something.