Starring: Imanol Arias, Quim Gutiérrez, Alexandra Jiménez
Director: Javier Ruiz Caldera
Running Time: 93 mins
Spy Time (Anacleto: Agente secreto) is a Spanish film about a secret agent who, in the face of major budget cuts to his organisation, attempts to save the world from a crazed escaped criminal, while his unsuccessful son accidentally finds himself caught up in the mission, which will change his life forever.
Whether it’s Austin Powers, Johnny English or The Naked Gun, you’ve got to love a good spy parody – whatever language it is in. So, while Spain may not exactly be famed for its production of the greatest big screen super spies of all time, they’ve really knocked it out of the park with the brilliantly funny Spy Time, following the exploits of legendary agent Anacleto and his failure of a son as they fight to save the world.
Now, I’ll start off by saying that this isn’t the best spy parody of all time. It doesn’t have the riotous, rebellious character of the likes of Austin Powers, and is nowhere near as insanely mocking as The Naked Gun, but what it does have is a solid sense of humour and a great confidence in exactly what it is, taking direct, blatant shots at tropes of James Bond and crafting as simply entertaining and ridiculous a story as possible around just that.
With an on-point central performance from Imanol Arias as the super spy Anacleto, as well as a trio of thoroughly entertaining supporting turns from the group who get caught up in his battle to save the planet, Spy Time is full of great energy and humour throughout, and although it may not always have the laugh-out-loud gags of the best parodies out there, all of the leads seem to be having great fun with the film throughout, which rubs off brilliantly on you right the way through.
And as a result, you get to watch a film that, while not an Oscar-winner, is entirely aware of exactly what it is, and is designed just to make you laugh and smile, and if that isn’t solid, easy-going entertainment, then I really don’t know what is.
If you’re into the spy genre, then there are a heap of excellent little references thrown in here and there for diehards fans to giggle at, but even if you’re just a casual viewer who knows the likes of James Bond, Spy Time’s sense of humour is so direct and blissfully simple that it’s easy to find something to laugh at all the same.
Now, as I said, the film doesn’t have the riotous energy of Austin Powers or the sheer ludicrousness of The Naked Gun, and while that simple middleground means that its slightly less ambitious brand of humour sits very nicely with you throughout, it does also put pressure onto the story to be slightly more interesting than it’s ever really going to be.
It’s always a difficult balance to strike – particularly in the parody genre – but if you go big and aim for mad, non-stop laughs that could all fall flat if the writing’s off, then the comedic side of things has a greater appeal, shifting attention from a generic and predictable story. When the brand of humour is a little more sedate as it is in Spy Time, the plot takes on a slightly greater importance in the film, and although I can’t say that the story here is in any way terrible, it isn’t quite good enough to engage to the extent that’s really necessary when you aren’t wetting yourself laughing right the way through.
As a result, Spy Time ends up as a thoroughly entertaining film with great humour, strong performances and an easy-going, fun-loving attitude throughout, but it’s never quite as engrossing or riotously entertaining as other films have proved the premise can be, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.