Saturday, January 14, 2012

REVIEW: Our Man Flint

Our Man Flint
Director: Daniel Mann
Year 1966

James Coburn you beautiful bastard! If you look up the definition of fun in the dictionary, chances are that you'll find the name Coburn somewhere in the mix, right next to the words, Our Man Flint. This flick is a wild ride, that never passes up a chance to thrill the audience with its audacious wit and feverish charm.

Our Man Flint follows the espionage filled antics of secret agent Derek Flint, a Renaissance man that omits so much self-esteem that if somehow harnessed, his mojo could power the entire United States for a couple of years. In his knowledgeable wisdom, Flint is asked to foil the diabolical plan of a couple of rouge scientists who are controlling the world's weather in order to bring about peace and their own personal views of how the world should be run. Flint sympathizes with their plight, but once the eco-terrorists kidnap his five best girls and brainwash them into joining their little cult, all bets are off. Those pencil neck pushers are going down.

Coburn is absolutely electrifying in this film, bringing as much charisma as he does deadly force when taking down the bad guys. His performance isn't done through brooding seriousness, but through light and campy filled banter that treads the fine line of comedy and satire. It's all played out in great fun, and why shouldn't it be? This is the age of Bond and the Eurospy, so why not get down and dirty and have a little fun. 

The style, of course, goes hand in hand with the wild nature of the film, setting up some rather interesting attire and extravagant 60's garb. This is especially noticeable when Flint reaches the scientists' retro cool secret getaway, filled with swinging chicks for as far as the eye can see. It's at this glorious moment that we bare witness to the scientist's lavish style and their bland henchmen in their matching and ridiculous jump suits. What a fashion statement and no doubt the inspiration for a plethora of Austin Powers inside jokes.

As goofy of a film that it is, there is actually some surprising and restrained aspects of the production. For a lavish and whimsical story, the film feels rather focused, never getting lost in the ridiculousness of the situation  or pandering to a specific joke only to be derailed by its inconsequential worth. The character of Derek Flint is also something of an enigma. For such a swinging egotistical know-it-all, he comes off as a rather decent guy, even going as far as being a spokesperson for women's liberation rights of all things. Going into the movie, I felt that I had a biased opinion on who Derek Flint was going to be, probably because of all of the spoofs and reincarnations of 60's spy culture that I had previously seen up until that point, but with Flint he is a different beast entirely.

He's a refined, cultured, and knowledgeable gentlemen spy that so happens to love the ladies. Much like his counterpart, James Bond, Flint has both the smarts and the sex appeal, yet it seems that both are cranked up to maximum levels in the Flint universe. The guy knows everything! The simple fact that he never misses a step and is always right, could come off as annoying, but in true Flint fashion it just adds to the charm of Derek's world. The balance of comedy and action is also pitch perfect and I don't think anyone could have pulled it off other then the smooth James Coburn.

In a nut shell, the film is entertainment in its highest form of 60's style, serving us with a side order of laughs while we're shown just how cool the era of cinematic international spying really was. Our Man Flint is every bit as fun as you would expect, giving us a diabolical plot that is both silly yet fused with energy at every turn. Coburn is outstanding and his portrayal of Derek Flint, literally the most interesting man in the world, is without a doubt a show-stopper. So in other words, I think the film......

1 comment:

  1. Coburn really does a remarkable job in this, not to mention the sharp scipt, Lee J. Cobb, and the Jerry Goldsmith score. Since Bruce Lee met Coburn after this, you can see that Coburn actually influenced Lee's screen fighting style, as well as his cool persona! Pity pity pity they didn't have great scripts that would entrance Coburn to do more Flints. I've heard that he disliked the quality of the screenplays, starting with the second and final Flint. Also, I believe that James Bond was influenced by Flint, since after Flint, Bond started to beat up hoards of guys, a la You Only Live Flint, oops Twice.