Wild Wild West stars an anachronistically hip Will Smith as a sort of frontier James Bond in a movie that may remind you of action romps from the James Bond movies to (shudder) ”Hudson Hawk.”
Even with several TV seasons’ worth of source material to draw from, ”West” director Barry Sonnenfeld (who did so well with ”Men in Black”) winds up employing a lot of the same tired devices to advance his so-called plot.
* EVIL ARCHVILLAIN James West’s nemesis is the legless Dr. Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), a demented genius who’s kidnapping top scientists to build a giant, spidery walking fortress that will help him take over the country.
* DISTRESSED DAMSELS ”West” has Salma Hayek as a feisty senorita who tags along with the hero to save her kidnapped scientist father.
* POP CULTURE IN-JOKES ”West” pays appropriate homage to 007 (”West. Jim West”), but also makes dumb references to the RCA mascot pooch, and to that other hybrid TV Western, ”Kung Fu.”
* SUPER-KEEN ACCESSORIES True to their TV image, West and his partner Artemis Gordon (Kevin Kline) use such secret-agent aids as belt-buckle derringers, exploding billiard balls, and a spring-action corsage (suitable for punching) concealed on the bosom of Gordon’s saloon-girl disguise.
* PLANES, TRAINS, AUTOMOBILES West chugs around in a custom-built railroad car full of secrets and booby traps, while Gordon grafts wings onto a rocket-powered bicycle and dubs it ”Air Gordon” (see Pop Culture In-Jokes).
Theoretically, all this fancy thingamajiggery should set ”Wild Wild West” apart from most recent action fare. Yet because it has so little else on its mind, the movie quickly settles into a videogame-like rhythm that, for all its frantic activity and pumped-up volume, gets kinda boring.