OSS 177: CAIRO NEST OF SPIES by Michel HAZANAVICIUS
> Monday, December 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm at the TAP CinÃ©ma
2006 / 1h39 / Fiction / France
Egypt, 1955. French comic favorite Jean Dujardin stars as secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, a.k.a. OSS 117â€”James Bond crossed with Maxwell Smart, Austin Powers and a bit of the The Naked Gun.
After a fellow agent is killed, Hubert goes undercover as the head of a Cairo poultry firm while he investigates the murder, monitors the Suez Canal, checks up on the Brits and Soviets, burnishes France's reputation, quells a fundamentalist rebellion and brokers peace in the Middle East.
"No problem," replies Hubert, whose suave self-importance is topped only by his phenomenal ignorance and dumb luck.
He is met at the Cairo airport by fetching and brainy secretary Larmina El Akmar Betouche (Berenice Bejo), and during a drive into town filmed entirely with old-fashioned rear projection, Hubert marvels at the amount of sand in Egypt and pooh-poohs Larmina's assertion that "millions of people" speak Arabic.
If Hubert hasn't heard of somethingâ€”like Islamâ€”he dismisses it as a silly notion that'll never catch on.
From its re-visiting of '60s-style hand-to-hand combat to the double cross-festooned finale, the screenplay pays off in the manner of all self-respecting thrillers in which the bad guys only appear to triumph. With sparkling production design, a jubilantly retro score and a genuine flair for using the film and TV vocabulary of the '60s to revisit colonial arrogance, OSS 117 is a consistent delight.