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I Spy Review

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In order to get close to an evil billionaire industrialist who's flogging an invisible spy plane to the highest bidder, hapless US spy Alex Ward (Wilson) is forced to go undercover as the assistant to vain, preening world champ boxer, Kelly Robinson (Murphy).

★★★★

While I Spy may have flopped in the US, anyone expecting a post-Christmas turkey will be thwarted - it's smart and slick, mainly due to its sparky leads. The laid-back Wilson, whose slightly stoned act is currently being examined at the Patent Office, gels superbly with the firebrand Murphy, who hasn't been this funny in years. It's a testament to Wilson's skill that he holds his own throughout several cracking comic set-pieces (the sewer heart-to-heart is a belter), fully justifying his leading man status after years of treading the sidekick beat.

But it's not all about letting Murphy and Wilson riff. Director Thomas keeps one eye on spy movie conventions, incorporating a nice use of gadgets and a twisting plot that peaks with a climactic scene in which characters change allegiances like they change their socks, much to a befuddled Wilson's astonishment. Hilarious.

A wonderful surprise to kick off 2003. It bears little relation to its Robert Culp-Bill Cosby TV series progenitor, but no matter ù this is the finest buddy comedy for ages.