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Haven't Seen It? It's on Netflix: OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

Updated on May 1, 2012

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies aka Le Caire, nid d'espions (2006)

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo

Runtime: 99 min

Motivated by the apparent murder of his friend and former partner, the seemingly debonair secret agent OSS 117 (Dujardin) is sent to Cairo, Egypt with a simple mission: "make the Middle East safe". The task is not so simple, as it turns out, and OSS 117 soon finds himself embroiled in conflict with religious extremists, the remnants of the Third Reich, and the beautiful, yet mysterious Larmina El Akmar Betouche (Bejo). OSS 117 takes this all in stride, however, and inspite of his glaring ineptitude and flippant attitude, is able to sort it all out.

Set to the rhythms of sizzling mambo, Nest of Spies is an example of how fun a spy spoof can be. As such, it has all the subversions of the spy genre as you might expect; there are puns that intentionally don't land, fight scenes that go on too long, and OSS 117's epic chauvinism compares unfavorably to his "manly performance". While all of this could easily fall flat, it's Dujardin that makes every moment fresh and funny. He easily carries the film by virtue of his enormous charm and acrobatic eyebrows. Bejo holds her own as OSS's guide, always pointing him in the right (and obvious) direction and weathering his cultural insensitivity.

While charisma is what makes the film what it is, Nest of Spies' is a film of numerous virtues. It delights both in the utter absurdity of a chicken throwing fight between Dujardin and an unknown assailant, and the purely entertaining rendition of "Bambino" by a caught-up-in-the-moment OSS. Through it all, it carries a satirical critique of cultural imperialism. Despite the varying elements, everything comes together to make this a fresh addition to a tired genre.

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