Film: “Spies In Disguise”; Voice Cast: Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled, Reba McEntire; Direction: Nick Bruno & Troy Quane; Rating: ** & 1/2 (two and a half stars).
“Spies In Disguise” is definitely a stylishly mounted, animated spy caper that is buoyant, spunky and dynamic to look at. Despite its vibrancy, the film lacks the pulse to connect with its audience.
Loosely inspired by Lucas Martell”s short film, “Pigeon: Impossible”, the film “Spies In Disguise” introduces us to an extraordinary spy, Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and his impending sidekick Walter Beckett (Tom Holland).
The narrative opens by establishing Walter as a bright kid who lacks social skills but makes up for it with his creative mind in inventing brilliant gadgets. He is a science genius who complains that he is being called a aceweirdo” in school.
Fourteen years later we are introduced to Lance, a smooth, suave and debonair spy who is well-versed with gadgets just like James Bond. It is clear that he is the coolest agent in town after his latest successful mission. Everyone is in awe of his star power.
Walter approaches Lance for work, but the arrogant Lance smoothly sidetracks him.
Lance”s nemesis, Killian (Ben Mendelsohn), who is into weaponised drones, steals his identity, causing Marcy Kappel, the Internal Affairs Agent, to suspect Lance of nefarious doings, and his boss Joy Jenkins (Reba McEntire) can”t protect him. Lance turns to Walter for help. How the genius lad assists Lance, in his epic mission of clearing his tarnished image, forms the crux of the narrative.
The plot scripted by Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor is bland and devoid of layers. While there is an absurd idea that injects humour into the telling of the tale, the story appears very generic with no special dimension or imagination. The gags are mediocre and lame. Also, numerous excuses are invented for big action sequences, making the entire plot appear forced.
Technically, the film boasts of ace production values. Visually, while there is glitter and rainbow weaponry at disposal, the frames lack bright colours. The film, mostly with all hues of blues and greys, makes the cinematic universe appear dull and depressing.
As for the animation, there appears to be a big mismatch between Waltera¿s age and appearance. Initially he is shown to us as a five to six year-old kid and later when the narrative takes a 14-year leap, he still looks like a pre-teen.
The voices lent by the excellent cast are energetic and engaging, and the background score does elevate the viewing experience, but that does not help much.
Overall, this film is a sweetly silly satire, which undemanding young viewers would go with the flow and the laugh perfunctorily, but adults would need to find a reason to sit through the screening.