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by Scott Weinberg

"Features Raquel Welch in a bikini, which means you'll like it."
3 stars

Lots of loopy, goofball movies hit the screens in the mid-60's, and "Fathom" was just one of 'em. Delivered in the same vein as "Our Man Flint" and "Casino Royale", this cute-yet-instantly-forgettable comedy/spy flick confection will appeal most to those who are old enough to remember its 1967 theatrical release.

Modern moviegoers may notice a bit of the old Austin Powers inspiration in Fathom, and itís a genial and vaguely involving little caper. Most importantly, this one is a vehicle for the stunning Raquel Welch at her most curvy and fetching.

Raquel plays Fathom Harvill, a voluptuous dental hygienist who spends her free time parachuting out of airplanes and causing whiplash in any man who comes near. While enjoying her vacation, Fathom is recruited by a super-secret spy agency, one that needs her help locating a deadly explosives detonator. The slinky spy is asked to simply parachute into Spain and activate a bugging device near the alleged villainís lair. (I say alleged because Fathom features six or seven characters, all of whom seem to be the villain at certain points.) The rest of the film has our adorable operative surviving a series of tight scrapes while always avoiding the licentious leerings of her numerous leading men.

First off, if youíre a Raquel Welch fan, this is a generally overlooked little chestnut that you MUST own. Raquel's never been accused of being a brilliant actress, but she acquits herself quite nicely in this early role, offering liberal scoops of girl-power sass and coyly sexy moments. (Plus she spends about 25 minutes in a tiny green bikini, proof positive that CGI can't duplicate everything that makes grown men go "Oooh.") Tony Franciosa (A Face in the Crowd) offers some suave charm as one of Fathom's partners-in-crime, and Clive Revill (The Legend of Hell House) steals a few scenes as a devious-yet-decent Russian art "collector".

The screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. (1980ís Flash Gordon) casts a fairly effective combo of James Bond-ish plot moves and mildly sexy comic fare - but Fathom runs out of steam long before the finale shows up. The movie is at its best during the colorful action scenes (a bullfighting sequence is pretty fun, and the extensive aerial photography is nothing short of breathtaking), yet the numerous scenes dedicated to straight plot exposition grow tiresome in quick measure.

Those looking for a trip back to the swinginí sixties, Spanish style, may enjoy "Fathom" quite a bit, and those who adore the lovely Ms. Welch will have a ball. Others most likely need not apply.

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originally posted: 04/30/04 19:40:26
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User Comments

5/05/11 ian nish very good 4 stars
5/03/04 R.W. Welch Very Scenic but only mildly entertaining. 3 stars
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