OSS 117: Lost in Rio

The film, much like it’s predecessor, contains wonderful dialogue, tons of double-crosses, rotten spy activity, nubile young women, tremendously funny situations and enough guffaws to keep people who hate reading subtitles in stitches.

So it’s almost impossible to do a French movie night, especially after the excellent 2006 spy spoof OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, without finding something equally as funny to run as the second feature.  The filmmakers of the aforementioned OSS 117 felt the same way which is why, in 2009, they filmed the follow-up -  OSS 117: Lost in Rio.  Continuing the saga of France’s greatest secret agent, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (the excellent Jean Dujardin), OSS 117 is sent to Rio to find an escaped Nazi war criminal, who has since become a famous Lucha Libre promoter, and bring him to justice.  The film, much like it’s predecessor, contains wonderful dialogue, tons of double-crosses, rotten spy activity, nubile young women, tremendously funny situations and enough guffaws to keep people who hate reading subtitles in stitches.

The film opens with M. de la Bath entertaining a Chinese princess and her retinue of beauties in Gstaad, Switzerland (jamming to Dean Martin, no less, in a clever nod to the Matt Helm series) when they are busted in on by Chinese thugs.  OSS 117 has an epic gun battle with the miscreants (indeed, firing at least 30 rounds without reloading) which results in everyone dying except himself and the princess.  The reason I bring this up is because the Chinese threat continues to appear every fifteen minutes or so, attempting to get revenge for family members lost in Gstaad.  This understandably adds extra tension to his already heavy mission of tracking down an escaped war criminal and retrieving some important microfilm he has in his possession.  We also find out about a tragic trapeze incident in OSS 117’s past that will have grave repercussions by the end of the film.  While in Rio, de la Bath is approached by Mossad, who want OSS 117 to help them actually capture the Nazi for war crimes and are willing to partner him with one of their own, to which de la Bath responds as humorously and border-line racist (as one of the characters would say) as you can get.  Much like Cairo, Nest of Spies, the humor is decidedly adult and this time focuses on Germans and people of the Jewish persuasion in the 1960s.  Lucky for de la Bath, his partner is the lovely Dolores Koulechov (Louise Monot) whom, much like the last film, he tries to impress with his suave charm and skills but ends up turning off with his clumsiness with language, his blatant disregard for other cultures and his decidedly French opinions.  Also making his debut appearance is the Felix Leiter-ish CIA man Bill Tremendous (Ken Samuels), who is as brilliant a send-up of the US Government lacky as OSS 117 is of Bond.

The problem, of course, is how to find the Nazi and it just so turns out that his son is hanging out with a local hippie  commune, which provides us another glimpse of the seedy sexual proclivities of our hero.  Drafting the boy, our heroes track the Nazi all over Brazil, engaging in LSD taking, alligator hunting, costume parties, Nazi rallies, probably the single best chase scene set in a hospital EVER, Lucha Libre battles and constant Chinese menace, all culminating in a very Reichenbach Falls-ian conclusion atop the Christ the Redeemer statue.  Much like Cairo, Nest of Spies, OSS 117: Lost in Rio is very difficult to give specifics on without ruining the jokes, which are overflowing in this film also.  Every situation de la Bath finds himself in, from an innocent meeting with his boss to being grilled by voluptuous villainess  Carlotta (Reem Kherici), is filled with some of the funniest and most extreme dialogue put into a spy film ever.  Pay special attention to the scene in the car between OSS 117 and Dolores where our hero tries to find out why she’s not falling all over herself to be with him and her excellent personality deconstruction of M. de la Bath.

The only complaint I have about this stellar follow-up is that the Director of Photography discovered how to put multiple images on the screen at one time and utilizes the trick a few times too many (indeed, it feels often like he just said “wow.  I can do this so we should, often”).  Otherwise, the film moves along at a rapid clip and is chock full of the same bits of humor and outrageous situations that made the first OSS 117 film such a masterpiece.  This sequel is just as funny as the first and holds up tremendously in a back-to-back viewing, which is how I would recommend it.  OSS 117: Lost in Rio is a tremendous addition to OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and I, for one, hope this series continues.  Jean Dujardin continues to impress as both a comedian and an action star and is fantastic in the role of OSS 117.  With all the rumors of a new Bond floating around (Will Smith? P. Diddy? An American?), you could do no worse than casting Mr. Dujardin, who is as engaging a spy as I’ve ever seen on film.  You’ve heard it before but do yourself a favor and check out the stellar OSS 117 series.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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