Based on a comic book that parodies the James Bond world of spies and super secret agents, Spy Time (Anacleto: Agente Secreto) is a fun action comedy that is particularly apt for this day and age. Anacleto is the silver-haired suave secret agent who has to deal with a declining budget and a list of enemies that hate him.
One, Vázquez, stages an escape as he is being transported from one prison to another (“A smaller, dirtier, prison,” says Anacleto with more than a little satisfaction.). As he departs the escort van the secret agent’s nemesis reveals he plans to kill Anacleto and his son Adolfo (Quim Gutiérrez).
Adolfo is a Wilber milquetoast character. A security guard at an electrical shop who is afraid to approach the criminals stealing merchandise from the shop floor. Adolfo’s girlfriend Katia (Alexandra Jiménez) is breaking up with him because he is boring and does not even have a driving license.
The two meet up at a nightclub and after she fights with her brother, Martin (Berto Romero), who is Adolfo’s best friend, Katia and Adolfo have break-up sex at their apartment. After learning that she still intends to leave him, Adolfo goes to sleep on the couch.
Vázquez sends his first assassin to kill Anacleto’s son and a very surprised Adolfo learns that he can defend himself and kills the Chinaman. The next morning he goes to tell Katia and finds the apartment is in pristine condition and that the dead body is gone.
Adolfo meets his father Anacleto (Imanol Arias) and the two begin to reforge broken bonds and survive the many attempts on their lives.
Directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera (who specializes in comedy films) and written by a trio of scribes who based the screenplay on the comic by Manuel Vázquez Gallego, Spy Time is a delightful romp that has little gore but some surprisingly brutal violence.
In terms of violence, one character has an long allen wrench shoved into their eye. It is a tad shocking but the act does not detract from the humor. Once again because there is a lack of gore. There are no buckets of claret here; just enough to show that violence has occurred.
There are many comical moments. Anacleto giving Katia’s entire family truth serum. When Adolfo’s soon-to-be ex girlfriend complains that Anacleto’s son did not get the serum the secret agent protests. “What do you think I am? I’m not going to drug my own son!”
A great bit on assembling IKEA-type furniture and a secret meeting in a Bingo hall (“22, two little ducks”) and some splendid comic stunts make this a very entertaining film to watch. From the ubiquitous tuxedo and cigarette to the Walther PPK semiautomatic pistol, the role of Anacleto screams James Bond. But on a modern day EU budget.
The two main actors; Gutiérrez and Arias, look like father and son and their chemistry together is spot on. Arias is brilliant as the calm and self assured secret agent who “Never fails.” Spy Time was shot in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and this helps the setting of the film feel authentic.
The Spanish shop fronts and the streets all put the viewer right there. Viewers who have lived in Europe prepare for a light dose of nostalgia. (A quick sidenote: The fight scene in the covered market is brilliantly choreographed and quite funny.)
Spy Time is a 5 star film, virtually perfect in every way. Funny with a lot of action; shootouts and fights, with more than enough clever dialogue. The pacing is swift and flowing so that the 87 minute runtime feels much faster. In terms of violence it is a tad severe so consider yourself warned.
The film is streaming on Netflix at the moment. It is a subtitled production so those who cannot cope with foreign films they “have to read” may want to give it a pass. For the rest, put your glasses on and prepare to be thoroughly entertained.