Bond parodies have long been an old hat, but that doesn't stop ever new generations of comedians trying their luck with this quintessential western myth. They were already an old hat when Mäkinen made this Finnish stab at the genre. It was timely: the VCR had caught the big way and as an importer of tapes Mäkinen would have been well aware that the VCR-crazy Finns were eagerly renting every new 007 title to hit the shelves. One reason why they were so eager with this new toy was the desire to escape the boredom of contemporaneous Finnish cinema. For in the eighties it really did seem at times that domestic feature films were either subsidised art films choked by their own pretensions or often embarrassingly incompetently executed entertainment trying to squeeze laughter out of any half-cocked idea. Considering Mäkinen was one of the prime operators in the latter genre, Agentti 000 is surprisingly enjoyable.
As much a Bond pastiche as parody, it follows the journey of Saarelainen's wildly overplayed buffoon Jonas Breitenfeldt (a bumbling, semi-impotent reversal of 007 in the Maxwell Smart tradition) through various stock situations (e.g. a health clinic that's dangerous to your health, the villain's secret, console-crowded headquarters etc), as he tries to stop the masked villain's organisation from turning the members of Finnish establishment into flashers, drunks or suicide candidates with a generic mind-control device. The modest budget stretches only so far, of course, but there is one rather extensive car-wrecking chase sequence - a record-breakingly extensive at the time in Finnish cinema, always hampered as it is by limited budgets and heavy road tax. Wood's (wooden) performance gave it some extra credibility, though contractual reasons limited his usefulness. Also Tommila's investigative reporter Salla is a refreshingly independent and resourceful heroine of the kind that was still rather novel in Finnish cinema at the time.
These good points can no way cover the fact that the whole narrative is a mere tissue of at best barely competently executed and haphazardly strung-together gags which pretty much falls apart well before the closing titles. Even the intentional humour is tacky and bumbling in the worst tradition of Finnish gutter comedy (cue Manitbois or the least inspired cast-offs of Spede Pasanen), lacking any sophisticated satirical flair suitable for the subject. The main exception is the running gag of Saurén as the small-time robber whose path keeps crossing - disastrously - with Breitenfeldt's and who gets to represent the populist image of a small-time entrepreneur just trying to make a few marks with the establishment breathing down his neck ("Compared to you, we're just amateurs," he quips at the head of the Secret Service). Though he is now on the wrong side of the law, Saurén's routines are obvious recycling of his celebrated - and disastrously typecasting - role as constable Reinikainen from the superb eponymous television comedy. Again this is a typical modus operandi of Mäkinen and his peers: grab any flavour-of-the-month celebrity or successful television sketch and try to make a feature-length film out of it (the magnum opus of this approach being Hannu Seikkula's 1989 farrago Onks' Viljoo näkyny?). Making feather-light, harmless bubblegum entertainment may have been Mäkinen's professed aspiration - and he certainly succeeds with Agentti 000 ja kuoleman kurvit - but there is a lot of cynical calculation underlying that same aspiration.
Yet Agentti 000 is worth a screening. As dull as the intentional humour is, the unintentional should be worth a chuckle or few. The hand-me-down qualities of early-1980s design and fashion, as well as the cheerfully anachronistic soundtrack - lots of 1970s funk guitars and horns in an obvious mangling of John Barry's famous riffs - only heighten the surreal sense of ludicrousness. Some credit must also be given to the film for its uniqueness in Finnish cinema. Apart from one television play, where 007 comes looking for his long-lost mum in Finland no less, it is the only time the poster boy of Her Majesty's Secret Service has been truly parodied in Finnish cinema - outside the fervent attempts of video-camera-packing amateur underground, of course.
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