“It will be fun, trust me.”
Steve Carell stars as a very confident Maxwell Smart (a.k.a. Agent 86), who works at CONTROL, a hidden spy agency based in Washington D.C. Max makes a great action hero with amazing powers of observation and unselfish motives – a nice counter-program to several headstrong action heroes who don’t have the mental and physical balance Max possesses.
Carell does a fine job handling the comedy, plus some surprising action stunts and physical jokes. Using his brain more than his brawn, with a bit of luck, gets Max further along in his ultimate goal of becoming a full-fledged field agent. Anne Hathaway co-stars as the no-nonsense Agent 99. “It’s not about (field test) grades, it’s whether you are dead or not,” she says to Max.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a fellow agent and recent Oscar winner Alan Arkin plays CONTROL’s Chief. CONTROL’s rival, KAOS, is led by Terence Stamp in a one-note antagonist role as Siegfried, which doesn’t really live up to his decent introduction though he has a few good lines. Ken Davitian plays the second in command Shtarker while famous wrestler Dalip Singh (a.k.a. the Great Khali) provides some muscle.
The remaining supporting cast includes Max’s co-workers played by David Koechner and Terry Crews. James Caan plays the President of the U.S.A. while Bill Murray makes the most of his extremely limited screen time in an homage role as Agent 13. Two NBC television stars also provide some comic relief as gadget wizards. Masi Oka and Nate Torrence play Bruce and Lloyd with smarts and nice comic timing.
You can probably predict plot parts if you pay close attention, but most audiences will not predict the match-ups and scenarios as they enjoy this very funny and intelligent experience. Don’t expect any twists in the same realm as the Mission Impossible film series though a troubling lack of evidence provides some potential for a jolting spin where the bad guys could have an ingenious plan, but filmmakers miss this opportunity. The film still entertains on a high level because of several strong elements like the constant humor, amazing Russian locations, and Carell’s great performance.