7 September 2007 | Bogmeister
The Name is Vine, Charles Vine
MASTER PLAN: assassinate a scientist who has a new formula. This isn't really a parody of the James Bond secret agent thriller, more like a copy of the already slightly absurd sub-genre. It's more direct in this respect than the other imitators of this decade because this depicts the same covert agency of the Bond universe, not the new worlds of, say, 'Flint' or Matt Helm. The double-0 agent here (Adams) isn't some fumble-witted fool like, for example, the "The Liquidator," who hates to kill anyone; no, this Vine character really is the 2nd best agent, able to kill bad guys left & right quite effectively. The tone and plot are not ridiculous, containing only some subtle satirical jabs here & there - the most outrageous is probably in the teaser, depicting a strange assassination. Then Sammy Davis Jr. sings the somewhat over-the-top title song ("The 2nd Best Secret Agent..."). There's an amusing copycat scene of Bond's first meeting with M from "Dr.No," Vine has a similarly fluid way to Bond with the ladies in bed, there's a sly reference to "Goldfinger" and he uses a silencer gun with an extra-long barrel, which I'm sure sent a signal to some viewers on the meaning. But, other than that, the action is pretty straightforward, with the agent's main mission protecting a scientist who has invented a new gravity formula (or anti-gravity; depends on how you look at it). See also "The Glass Bottom Boat" for another sample of the preoccupation with gravity formulas around this time. The writers included some dialog that even explores and attempts to explain such a secret agent's approach to life and his job, a commentary on the whole Bond outlook, which may or may not ring true. This was always left to the imagination in the Bond films, not spoken outloud.
There's a repetitive quality to the story, which may strike some as a weakness. There are several attempts by assassins on the life of the scientist; these bits usually take place on a road somewhere - the heroes are tricked into stopping the car and then Vine has to demonstrate why he's still alive and almost the best in the business. There's even a weak instance of the assassins delaying their termination of Vine and the scientist for no reason, including even the lame 'last cigarette gambit' by Vine, but most of the scenes do contain elements of tension and excitement. There's even some suspense regarding the motivations and true goals of the scientist. Probably due to a small budget, the film steers away from any spectacular set-pieces of the later Bond films of "Goldfinger" and after, but this just means it resembles the basic espionage plot lines of "Dr.No" and "From Russia With Love." Don't expect huge explosions or sets, just some standard gun-play and tepid auto chases. The writers also threw in a doppelganger subplot towards the end, which builds on the 'false death' scenarios of a couple of Bonders. There are no really memorable villains, with mostly some Cold War Soviet intrigue behind-the-scenes, including actor Bull from "Dr.Strangelove" in a similar role. As Vine, Adams is adequate; he certainly lacks the charisma and presence of Connery, and he's almost too humorless in the role. It's probably better that he didn't stray into tongue-in-cheek silliness, but his lack of expression throughout was a bit too stiff and a little on the dull side. He would return once more in "Where The Bullets Fly." Hero:6 Villains:6 Femme Fatales:5 Henchmen:6 Fights:6 Stunts/Chases:6 Gadgets:4 Auto:5 Locations:5 Pace:6 overall:6