The Avengers
Emma Peel poster USA, 1998. Rated PG-13. 89 minutes.

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery, Jim Broadbent, Fiona Shaw, Eddie Izzard, Eileen Atkins
Writer: Don MacPherson, based on the TV series by Sydney Newman
Music: Joel McNeely, Laurie Johnson (theme)
Cinematographer: Roger Pratt
Producers: Jerry Weintraub
Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik

Grade: D- Review by Carlo Cavagna

There is no question that The Avengers is a terrible movie--not even in the minds of the people at Warner Brothers, apparently, who declined to screen the movie for the press before releasing it. However, The Avengers isn't quite the nadir of filmmaking that was Lost in Space. Visually, The Avengers is creative and interesting. Forget about trying to follow the plot, however--even with extensive use of the rewind function on my VCR, I couldn't piece it together. Sean Connery can control the weather, and he's upset about something, or maybe he wants money, or both, and Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman must stop him. I think.
The Big Picture
Carlo D-

Ralph Fiennes (as foppish Secret Agent John Steed) is too good for this twaddle. Not realizing that he's not actually required to act in a film like this, he delivers a strong performance. On the other hand, Sean Connery (sounding hoarse after his multiple throat surgeries) is disappointing. To be fair, he doesn't really get enough screen time to make his villain truly memorable, but in the time he does have, he's not quite over the top enough. His failure in this respect is odd, considering all his 007 experience--you'd think he'd know what the role of a villain demands. Meanwhile, Uma Thurman (as Dr. Emma Peel and Peel's evil doppelganger) spends her time on screen looking slinky in innumerable tight outfits, bantering with Ralph Fiennes, and wearing one of three expressions: the Wooden Face, the Sly Grin, and the Knowing Smile. One begins to suspect that she's not as good an actress as her reputation would indicate.

If you go against my advice and see The Avengers, listen for a vocal cameo by Patrick Macnee, TV's original John Steed.

Review © March 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Images © 1998 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.