If Jean Dujardin excels again in this third opus, nonetheless remains an adventure which lacks rhythm and flavor.
Needless to say: OSS 117 is one of those cult characters, anchored in manners. In addition to his replicas sung in all sauces for nearly 15 years, it is also for the originality of his adventures that the spy has acquired this notoriety, in the same way as a Jean-Claude Dusse or a Jacquouille la Scoundrel. It is an understatement to say that we were delighted with the return of the secret agent, sent this time to Africa while France is preparing to experience the election of François Mitterrand. Gone is the joy of reunion, difficult to be satisfied with a lazy third opus, stingy in its propensity to perpetuate the legend.
The prologue is explosive: Hubert fled there with some difficulty the Russian army in Afghanistan and flew to France, accompanied by a solar credits, tribute to James Bond. Never had OSS 117 taken part in such a shooting and the analogy with 007 is obvious. To the detriment of the absurd, Nicolas bedos favors action and we can only agree with him because he seems to flounder when it comes to infusing a soul into his story. At the end of these two hours, it seems impossible to quote a situation or a striking dialogue, where the two previous opus successfully captured this very episodic rhythm. There are very few pleasing twists and turns, while the Egyptian and Brazilian twists and turns abounded. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of his words, Bedos never comes close to his predecessors in considering the myth that surrounds his character as a pseudo-necessity that he neglects.
We are entitled to question the pitfalls into which the story unnecessarily rushes, starting with the narrative flows linked to Pierre Niney. Far from wanting to blame the actor, his character is just a funnel that absorbs all the comic potential of the film. What is the point of hearing him list Hubert’s faults? Yes Hazanavicius was the eloquent defender of an implicitly ironic double-enunciation, Bedos neglects the appetites of his viewer by opting for unnecessarily didactic turns and spends his time justifying the politically incorrect remarks distilled throughout the story. Never really funny, his ideas are devoid of any interest and reflect a latent lack of inventiveness. The hospital chase in the second opus finds a heartbreaking echo in a sequence where Hubert simply cannot keep up with his new, exhausted sidekick. Support of a tasty tone in the first two films, seduction and the relationship with women are neglected, pretexts of an intergenerational confrontation already seen and reviewed. Putting the ego of the secret agent to the test could have given great letters of nobility to parody, a genre mistreated by French comedy lately. It is not so here.
We would have liked to see the film conclude with the election of Mitterrand. The epilogue clashes and comes just as the film finally seemed to begin. We regret not seeing Hubert fly to Russia and deal with the Communists as the African twists and turns have not been successful for him. No less one Jean Dujardin who always excels when it comes to lending his features to the spy. We smile in particular when he lists his various conquests, nostalgia for a glorious past (which we also regret). Too wise and clumsy, this adventure had no place and would have deserved a hell of a blow of polish.
• Original title : OSS 117 – Red alert in black Africa
• Production : Nicolas bedos
• Scenario: Jean-Francois Halin
• Main actors : Jean Dujardin, Pierre Niney, Natacha Lindinger, Fatou N’Diaye
• Release date : August 4, 2021
•Duration : 1h55min