Directed by Betty Thomas. Starring Owen Wilson, Eddie Murphy, Famke Janssen and Malcolm McDowell.

A misfit, a mouth and a mission. Alex Scott (Wilson) is the rookie secret agent who bungles assignments but somehow manages to get himself back to base in one piece. Kelly Robinson (Murphy) is the world boxing champ, undefeated in 57 bouts and gearing up for 58. What brings them together is the Switchblade, a prototype fighter jet stolen by arms dealer Gundars (McDowell) and hidden somewhere near his base in Budapest - the venue for Robinson's next title defence. The only way for Scott to infiltrate boxing fan Gundars' lair is to join Robinson's entourage, but can they stop arguing long enough to keep their cover intact?

A box office letdown in the US, Betty Thomas' take on the 60's TV hit is no 'Midnight Run' but her cast works far better than most production line buddy movies. With Murphy in the mood and Wilson's lazy drawl making you laugh even when you're not supposed to, the leads were here for a great mix of slapstick and shootouts - if only they had a better script. Having gelled so well both actors deserved more and the scenes where they get it - Wilson's attempt at seducing Janssen and a bonding session in a Budapest sewer - show just what Thomas could've created with the right writers.

There are some nice send ups of the genre as Wilson's character finds himself lumbered with gadgets the size of outboard motors and a partner who complicates situations he's already made a mess of, but the action scenes aren't half as fun as watching two adult men trading playground insults.

Credit to Murphy and Wilson for making the most of it, but for Thomas it's a case of must spy harder.

Harry Guerin