The Avengers | Chicago Reader

The Avengers

Agent John Steed (Ralph Fiennes) presents his ad hoc partner Emma Peel (Uma Thurman) with a new pair of leggy boots, zipping them awkwardly over her wrinkled red tights without a hint of slickness or sensuality in this costume and production-design vehicle (1998). Neither elegant nor macho nor elegant-and-macho, Fiennes is terribly cast; Thurman at least provides the equivalent of a dressmaker's dummy on which to hang neo-mod fashions. Screaming for attention they don't deserve are setups such as one in a boardroom where arch villain Sean Connery reminds his cronies that the reason they're wearing giant teddy-bear suits in rainbow colors is that they can't be allowed to recognize one another—back story for the art direction. An Escherian staircase repeatedly confounds Thurman, providing an excuse for an optical illusion and overhead view in the same shot. But the grasping novelty of the visuals doesn't rival the uncharismatic leads or the hopelessly, unironically banal plot, in which the agents must foil Connery's scheme to control the weather so he can sell tolerable conditions to the populace. Jeremiah Chechik directed a screenplay by Don Macpherson inspired by the 60s TV show.

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