With its roots firmly planted in the ’60s spy-pastiche genre, it’s perhaps unavoidable that ‘Get Smart’ has a whiff of ‘Austin Powers’ about it. But, in fact, that over-familiarity extends to the whole enterprise, from the knockabout violence and slapstick pratfalls to obvious gags about aeroplane toilets and fat women. The overlong script takes no risks: its globetrotting plot is replete with signposted twists – the big last-act reveal will astonish no one over the age of six. ‘Nutty Professor II’ director Peter Segal consistently substitutes big bangs for big laughs – in the age of low-budget joys such as ‘Knocked Up’, this kind of overblown effects bonanza is beginning to feel decidedly outdated.
Some moments work. Bill Murray makes a welcome, if rather perfunctory, cameo as an agent trapped inside a tree, and the climactic car chase is exciting and remarkably well constructed. But overall this is a limp parade of recycled gags and gadgets: an action movie with no surprises and a comedy with nothing like enough laughs.