Secret Agent James Bond has undergone many cosmetic changes over the years as a result of numerous actors taking up the famed 007-mantle, with each actor bringing his own spin to the smooth-talking and suave secret agent. In addition to these sanctioned incarnations, Hollywood and the film industry outside America has produced a number of knock-offs and pastiches to the world’s most famous secret agent – though few of those incarnations are as strange or surreal as Dr. Neil Connery (the character, not the actor who plays him who just happens to have the same name and is the real-life younger brother of Sean Connery), the “younger brother” of an unnamed but famous secret agent, and the star of the only Neil Connery vehicle, Alberto de Martino’s ‘OK Connery’ [aka Operation: Kid Brother] (1967).
‘OK Connery’ is a bizarre, para-meta-film that simultaneously captures the aesthetics and tropes of “postmodernism” several decades before postmodernism was even a concept, while at the same time failing to resemble in any shape, way or form a coherent spy movie. The basic plot of the film centers around Dr. Connery’s attempts to stop the evil machinations of THANATOS, an esoteric criminal organization hell-bent on constructing a large magnet in order to disrupt/destroy all metal-based machinery. That last sentence is more insane than you can even imagine, and here’s why:
First off, the other characters in the film make numerous references to Dr. Connery’s older, “more famous” secret agent brother, the indication being that Dr. Connery is the younger brother of none other than James Bond (an indication made clearer by the presence of several Bond regulars playing similar roles in Alberto de Martino’s film). However, if Dr. Connery is “James Bond’s” younger brother (that is, James Bond, not Sean Connery, the actor who plays James Bond), why then do they have different last names? Is the name “James Bond” an alias, or is “Connery” the fake name? Are James Bond/Sean Connery the same person, or does the actor Sean Connery exist as a separate person in the constructed reality of the James Bond universe?
The distinction between “our reality” and the “film’s reality” only becomes more blurred when you consider the fact that Lois Maxwell (aka “Miss Moneypenny) plays a secret agent named, creatively enough, Miss Maxwell, who recruits Dr. Connery after her fellow agent is killed, and his girlfriend, Miss Yashuko (played by Yama Yashuko) is kidnapped. So, are Maxwell and Yashuko playing themselves, or are they playing characters that just happen to have the same names as them? Was it de Martino’s intentions to make some metaphysical comment on the subjective nature of reality, or was the screenplay simply written by one of the laziest writers in cinematic history? None of these questions are, of course, answered nor even answerable.
Getting back to the film’s plot: So the evil organization SMERSH—err, sorry—THANATOS (which is definitely not a rip-off of SMERSH) wants to construct a machine capable of generating a gigantic magnet wave in order to disrupt all machinery as a means of a terrorist attack. Alright, it sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, granted, but it’s still a pretty asinine and ridiculous plan. After all: the magnetic-wave generating machine is, itself, a machine! So the first time THANATOS switches that thing on, guess what’s going to be destroyed? Yep. The machine itself. How are they supposed to test the thing to make sure it’ll work when they need it to? What if they miss their intended targets? These are just some of the questions that de Martino had absolutely no interesting in addressing or answering when he made this movie.
Although the film’s story and plot might be more than just a tad ridiculous and insane, at least the presence of Lois Maxwell and Bernard Lee (playing Commander Cunningham, which is more or less the same character as “M”) prevent the quality of acting from sinking into Z-grade territory, though the skills of the other cast members are far more doubtful. As for the lead, though the younger Connery might not have the acting chops of his older brother, at least the man looks like he’s enjoying himself while he uses his lip-reading and hypnosis powers in order to infiltrate the villains’ secret lair with an army of Scottish archers (Please feel free to read that last sentence again).
Ultimately, Martino’s ‘OK Connery’ is a film that is too weird to be awful, too awful to be good, too ridiculous to be a thriller, and too dark to be a comedy. It is not a great or even a good movie by any means, but there’s a strangeness to it that makes it far more interesting and captivating than most of the other James Bond knock-offs clotting up the spy-genre. Though the film’s positive traits are few and far in between, one thing that can’t be denied about Martino’s film is this: at least it’s not boring.
Find the nearest Blockbuster (assuming they still exist) near your home so you can rent this film almost immediately. Or, if you prefer that movies came to you instead, set up a Netflix account and start your ordering as soon as possible.