OSS 117: From Africa with love (OSS 117 - Alerte Rouge en Afrique)

OSS 117: From Africa with love (OSS 117 - Alerte Rouge en Afrique)
Running time:116 minutes
Director:Nicolas Bedos
Release date:04 august 2021
1981. Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, alias OSS 117, is back. For this new mission, more delicate, more perilous and more torrid than ever, he is forced to team up with a young colleague, the promising OSS 1001.

Mulder's Review

We had to wait more than twelve years to find the French secret agent of the SDECE Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath on the big screen. While the first two films, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006) and OSS 117: Rio Doesn't Answer (2009), were directed by Michel Hazanavicius on scripts co-written by him and Jean-François Halin, this third film is based solely on a script by the latter and a rather successful and inspired direction by Nicolas Bedos. OSS 117 - Red Alert in Africa is also the eleventh film featuring the most famous French spy, but above all it is a way of extending the adventures of a colorful character who remains true to himself despite the weight of the years. 

While the first part took place in 1955 in Egypt and the second in 1967 in Rio de Janeiro, this new part places the action years later in 1981 in East Africa. Despite the ten years that separate the second part and this film, we must recognize that OSS 117 - Red Alert in Africa finds all the spirit of the universe recreated by Michel Hazanavicius and Jean-François Halin after the work of Jean Bruce and allows us to spend a good time, yet we feel a certain bitterness as the forces in presence could have caused real sparks and go even further in the satire.

After an introductory scene worthy of the best James Bond movies and a generic taking up the code of this other cinematographic saga just as cult showing us how Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath manages to escape from a Russian base and sees himself relayed on his return from his mission as an old agent to the computer service of the SDECE in which he is given a mission of archiving on diskettes the internal data.  However, when his young colleague, Agent 1001 (Pierre Niney), who went on a mission, is reported missing, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath's superior has no choice but to ask him to go back on a mission to not only find OSS 1001 but also to help the leader to control the rebels within the framework of Françafrique. Here is the best French secret agent again on a mission but he has lost his ardor not only with women (his problems in bed give rise to some good comic scenes) but also in shooting and running. The treatment given to the character reminds us of the film Never Say Never Again (1983) crossed with the comedies of the 80's with Jean Paul Belmondo...

While the previous films written and directed by Nicolas Bedos, Monsieur et Madame Adelman (2017) and La Belle Époque (2019) have imposed him as an excellent writer and director, his third film disappoints us as it seems to have lost its spirit and has been content to deliver a film that goes out of its universe to meet a request from a French studio wishing to update a universe adored by the French public. The result is a film that seems to be a simple succession of scenes stuck to each other that give this feature a real lack of ambition. 

Certainly the satirical side is always present, certainly the dialogues are always as percussive but it misses a true story taking with numerous twists. It's as if the director had activated his autopilot and followed a scenario cruelly lacking the artistic touch of Michel Hazanavicius to find all the strength and the cult scenes of the first part. If not, we can say that this film is more successful than OSS 117: Rio Doesn't Answer (2009) but it remains far from the artistic genius of the first part, whose presence of Bérénice Bejo added a glamorous touch that is sorely missing in this part. However, we must admit that the duo Jean Dujardin and Pierre Niney works well and that these two great actors seem to take a real communicative pleasure to play together. Pleasure spoiled in part by a scenario lacking substance and which makes that the reunion is spoiled in part.

While it is possible to discover excellent American films such as The Suicide Squad, Fast and Furious 9 and Jungle Cruise, this French blockbuster disappoints us and makes us want to see the first part again, in which Jean Dujardin showed what an excellent actor he is.

OSS 117: From Africa with love
Directed by Nicolas Bedos
Produced by Eric and Nicolas Altmayer 
Written by Jean-François Halin 
Starring Jean Dujardin, Pierre Niney, Fatou N'Diaye, Natacha Lindinger, Gilles Cohen, Wladimir Yordanoff, Ibrahim Koma, Ricky Tribord
Music by Anne-Sophie Versnaeyen
Cinematography : Laurent Tangy 
Storyborder : Eric Gandois
Production companies : Mandarin Cinéma, Gaumont and M6 Films
Distributed by Gaumont Columbia Tristar Films (France)
Release date: August 04 2021 (France)
Running time : 116 minutes

Seen on august 02 2021 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 12 seat A20

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