Posted on June 30, 2018
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a comedy film directed by Jay Roach. The film stars Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley.
This spoof film follows Austin Powers, a British spy that aims to foil the plans of his nemesis, Dr. Evil.
The film lovingly mocks James Bond, 1960’s/1990’s culture, and the spy genre in general.
The Story (SPOILERS)
The story for Austin Powers is still under construction.
The film opens in 1967. Austin Powers, a British spy, is being harassed by a legion of fans.
He is soon joined by his partner, Mrs. Kensington and they race toward Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club, a London nightclub.
They thwart an assassination attempt by his nemesis, Dr. Evil.
Dr. Evil escapes in a space rocket disguised as a Big Boy statue, and cryogenically freezes himself. Powers volunteers to be placed into cryostasis in case Dr. Evil ever returns in the future.
Thirty years later, in 1997, Dr. Evil returns to discover his henchman Number 2 has developed Virtucon, the legitimate front of Evil’s empire, into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Uninterested by genuine business, Dr. Evil conspires to steal nuclear weapons and hold the world hostage for $100 billion. Evil also learns that, during his absence, his associates have artificially created his son, Scott Evil, using his frozen semen. Now a Generation X teenager, Scott is resentful of his father’s absence and resists Dr. Evil’s attempts to get closer to him.
Having learned of Dr. Evil’s return, the British Ministry of Defence unfreezes Powers, acclimatizing him to the 1990s with the help of agent Vanessa Kensington, the daughter of his sidekick in the 1960s, Mrs. Kensington. Posing as a married couple, Powers and Kensington track Number 2 to Las Vegas and meet his Italian secretary, Alotta Fagina. Later, Powers infiltrates Fagina’s penthouse suite for reconnaissance and discovers plans for Dr. Evil’s “Project Vulcan”, which involves drilling a nuclear warhead into the Earth’s molten core and triggering volcanic eruptions worldwide. Fagina discovers Powers in her suite and seduces him into revealing his true identity. Learning that Powers is back, Dr. Evil and his entourage conspire to defeat the spy by creating a series of fembots: beautiful female androids equipped with automatic guns concealed in their breasts. The fembots were tested on security guards, who are asked to shoot them but all die because they cannot resist the fembots.
Powers and Kensington attempt to infiltrate the Virtucon headquarters but are soon apprehended by Dr. Evil’s henchman, Random Task. Meanwhile, the United Nations accede to the demands of Dr. Evil, who proceeds with Project Vulcan regardless. Powers and Kensington are placed in a death trap by Dr. Evil, but they easily escape, and Kensington is sent for help. While searching for Dr. Evil, Powers is confronted by the fembots and ends up in bed surrounded by them. After he finally breaks free and heads to the door, the fembots try to seduce him so they can kill him, but Powers seduces them with a striptease and makes them explode one by one. Kensington and two guards catch Powers still dancing even though the fembots are terminated, but Powers explains the truth and, at Kensington’s insistence, redresses for battle. British forces raid the underground lair, while Powers finds the doomsday device and deactivates it. Powers confronts Dr. Evil, but Fagina arrives holding Kensington hostage. They are interrupted by Number 2, who attempts to betray Dr. Evil by making a deal with Powers. Dr. Evil uses a trap door to eliminate Number 2, then activates the base’s self-destruct mechanism and escapes. Powers and Kensington flee just as a nuclear explosion destroys the lair.
Powers and Kensington are later married, and during their honeymoon Powers is attacked by Random Task. Powers subdues the assassin using a penis pump, allowing Kensington to knock him out using a bottle of champagne. Afterwards, the newlyweds adjourn to the balcony. Among the stars, Powers spots the cryogenic chamber of Dr. Evil, who vows revenge on Powers.
Austin Powers is the best kind of spoof film. None of the jokes feel too mean-spirited toward the genre, have any tonal issues, or even detract from the story.
The characters are so enjoyable that it developed an identity apart from the “spoof” genre. That alone is reason enough to warrant a view, even if the risqué protagonist is a bit off-putting.
As a fish-out-of-water film, it does fine. This film is the most “film-like” in the series, due to Austin’s dilemma of being in a strange era, locale, and societal culture.
The success that this film has gotten is absolutely warranted. Spawning several sequels, there is no doubt that there was enough to justify continuing the story.
The sequels went for more comedic character interactions and less storytelling, which is a shame based on how well-executed it is here.
This film’s pacing is sharp, structured, and has empathetic reasoning that the others lack.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable comedy that has more depth than expected, please give this one a try.
The culture clash between the 60’s and 90’s is poignant and holds up far better than the early 2000’s sequel with Beyoncé.