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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Wild Wild West (1999)



Reviews and Comments

Will Smith, Kevin Kline, and Kevin Branaugh in a blockbuster directed by Barry Sonnenfeld? How could this go wrong? More to the point, how did it go so very, very wrong? Maybe the strength of the talent working on it gave everyone delusions of grandeur and figured they didn't have to work at it.

In any case, Wild Wild West, a big screen adaptation of the TV series that reportedly cost more to make than all episodes of the show, is a total flop. It's too mechanical to have any sort of life or feeling in it. The humor is muggy and inert. The rapid fire cuts that take place during each of the stunts (to mask that they were performed in pieces) make them unconvincing. The special effects aren't even interesting to look at. The story isn't even worth talking about.

I have a great deal of respect for the extraordinary talents of the cast. But in this movie, a weak comic turn by Will Smith made worse in the editing room is actually the highlight. Kevin Kline is utterly unaffecting, and Kenneth Branagh's performance as the villain is just plain embarrassing. It's downright pathetic. This, from an admirer of the talents of all three.