Wild Wild West

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Action/Adventure/Comedy/Sci-Fi/Western, USA, 1999, 110 min.

Tagline It's a whole new west. July '99.

Synopsis The story opens in Louisiana in 1869. A man fitted with a magnetic collar runs through a forest trying to escape a large spinning saw blade flying through the air. The saw blade eventually catches the man and decapitates him. From the decapitated man's perspective, we see another man in a Confederate Army general's uniform seize the saw blade, which is engraved with a large emblem of a tarantula.In a town called Morgan, West Virginia, Army Captain James West (Will Smith), hides out in a half-filled water tower. While he has a romantic evening with a beautiful woman named Belle (Garcelle Beauvais), he sees a small unit of Confederate soldiers arrive and load up a wagon with boxes of nitroglycerin. West remarks that he'd been waiting for the men for a week and that they're under the command of General "Bloodbath" McGrath, the man who'd retrieved the saw blade. The horses attached to the wagon become jumpy and cause the wagon to weaken the already rickety water tower, spilling West, naked, into the storehouse where the men are taking the nitro. West battles with them briefly, retrieves his clothes and jumps onto the wagon (which has no driver now). He finally takes control of the wagon, which almost goes over a cliff overlooking a saloon called Fat-Can-Candy's, or Fat-Can's. West sees that McGrath is in Fat-Can's.Meanwhile, in the saloon, McGrath (Ted Levine) draws the attention of two burlesque performers. One of them, Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek), is pushed aside by Artemis Gordon (Kevin Kline), who wears a drag disguise. After Gordon sings "Sons of the South" for McGrath and his men, McGrath drags him upstairs. They pass a room where a bundle obviously containing a struggling man is being tended to by McGrath's men and into an empty bedroom. McGrath wears a trumpet style hearing aid because he lost his ear at Chickamauga. Gordon hypnotizes McGrath with a belt buckle equipped with two swirling wheels and begins to question him about missing scientists, including Dr. Escobar. McGrath responds like a dog until the wheels begin to fail and his hypnosis is broken. At that moment, West bursts in through the window and punches McGrath, who falls stunned to the floor. West tries to dismiss Gordon, saying he's going to execute McGrath. McGrath wakes up and charges West, knocking them through the wall and into the next room. McGrath then runs out of the room, joining his men carrying the bundle.West and Gordon get in each other's way trying to apprehend McGrath, so McGrath and his men escape with the scientist. West identifies himself as with the U.S. Army, while Gordon identifies himself as a U.S. Marshal. While West and Gordon argue about who has the authority to arrest McGrath, in a nearby carriage, Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) watches the scene, while his assistant, Miss Lippenrieder (Sofia Eng), reads their lips. Loveless releases the wagon carrying the nitro, letting it roll down the hill, directly into the saloon, where it explodes.West rides to the White House a few days later and meets with President Ulysses S. Grant (Gordon in disguise) in the Oval Office. West reports that his efforts to arrest McGrath were thwarted by another agent, Gordon. Grant begins to praise the talents of Gordon when West draws his revolver and points it at him, calling him an impostor. Gordon insists that he is the president and West shoots at the ceiling of the room. Gordon admits that he'd been posing as Grant; West tells him that he noticed Gordon's Harvard class ring, which should have been a West Point emblem. The real Grant (also Kevin Kline) enters the office and tells the two they'll be working together on a new mission for him. Grant shows them his intelligence room, where he states that the nation's top scientists in physics, hydraulics, and explosives have been kidnapped by McGrath, and that West and Gordon have been working on the same case. Grant shows them a note that tells them that an unidentified despot is using the kidnapped scientists to develop a new weapons system far more advanced than any in existence. The conditions are the surrender of the United States government within one week. The note came with a cake of the White House infested with tarantulas, apparently from McGrath. Grant gives West and Gordon one week to track down the mysterious enemy.The two travel in a specially equipped train, the Wanderer. On the way, Gordon makes use of the head of the man killed by the giant saw blade, Dr. Thaddeus Morton (Michael Sims), whose retinas are imprinted with the last image he saw, General McGrath. The image also shows that in McGrath's coat pocket is an invitation to a costume ball in the Garden District of New Orleans. When they arrive in New Orleans, the two have a brief argument about how to infiltrate the ball undetected. West chooses to simply dress like he always does and sneak in. Gordon opts for the costume of a Russian frontiersman.At the ball, West watches McGrath from a distance upstairs. West fools Dr. Loveless' personal assistant Mae Lee East (Bai Ling), who thinks his uniform is a costume. When the party officially begins, a large papier-mâché head of Abraham Lincoln is brought out and explodes. Arliss Loveless emerges in a steam-powered wheelchair and announces his return after a horrible accident involving explosives that claimed his legs and most of his internal organs. Arliss is throwing the party for foreign dignitaries that have funded his operations. Loveless sees West at the party, knowing he wasn't invited and the two banter in masked racial and "short" epithets. Loveless also tells West that he hasn't had any recent contact with General McGrath. Moments later, Loveless takes McGrath to his study and tells him to meet him at Malheureux Point on a nearby lake, where he'll equip McGrath with a cache of new weaponry for him and his men. West, who had been listening to them outside the room, is able to determine the meeting location but Miss East discovers him there. She tries to seduce West long enough for a man hiding in a mural behind him to kill him. West dodges, causing the man to miss and kill Miss East instead. West opens fire on every other mural in the room, killing several would-be assassins also hiding in the paintings.In the ballroom, West dances with a woman who he assumes to be Gordon in disguise and tells her that he's going to the meeting point given to McGrath. When West touches her supposed fake breasts, Gordon encourages the crowd to hang him, even throwing them a rope. Gordon steals into another room of the mansion and finds Rita Escobar in a giant cage, and tells her that he's looking for missing scientists. She tells him that Loveless has them working in his dungeon. Gordon frees her and tells her that the dungeon has been cleared of its captives. Outside, West tries to talk his way out of a lynching. When Gordon and Rita roll by in a wagon, West uses the rope (made of rubber), to launch himself onto the wagon. Rita explains to West and Gordon that she's not really an entertainer, but is looking for her father Guillermo Escobar, a scientist. West detaches one of the horses and rides off to Malheureux Point.On an ironclad floating on the lake, McGrath speaks with Loveless and the foreign dignitaries from the ball. McGrath's men have assembled on the shore of the lake and are waiting for their leader when a heavily armed iron tank rolls out of the water and stops in the middle of the crowd. It opens fire with Gatling guns, flamethrowers and cannons, rotating 180 degrees and killing all of McGrath's men. From the warship, McGrath accuses Loveless of betrayal, but Loveless counters that McGrath and General Lee betrayed him when they surrendered; Loveless also tells McGrath that he is testing the effectiveness of the weapon the kidnapped scientists developed, and tells his assistants to check the timing of reloads and deaths and to calibrate the deadly machine. McGrath orders Loveless to stop at gunpoint, but Loveless shoots him with a gun hidden in his wheelchair and orders his body thrown overboard. He addresses his foreign benefactors, telling them that if they're interested in purchasing the weapons technology he's demonstrated, that they should meet him in his Utah retreat, Spider Canyon.On the lakeshore, West, Gordon, and Rita find McGrath's slaughtered men lie slaughtered. Gordon and Rita wonder what could have killed all the men and West relates a story he'd heard about a large, armored vehicle that killed all the residents of a freed slave community called New Liberty in Illinois. McGrath, mortally wounded, somehow made it to shore and tells West that Loveless is responsible for the deaths of his men and the people of New Liberty. He dies before he can tell West where Loveless has gone. Rita says that she'd overheard some of Loveless' women talking about the desert and a place called "OO-tah", which Gordon and West recognize as Utah. They make Coleman (the Wanderer's engineer) take them there immediately. They decide to leave Rita behind due to the danger, but she gets inside the train anyway by using the train's gadgets. Rita tells West and Gordon that she overhead the foreign dignitaries discussing the Louisiana Purchase and Queen Isabella. She also flirts with West, Gordon, and Coleman. The men decide to take her along, despite the distraction she might create.The Wanderer catches up to Loveless' train, but they lose the scientist when they pass through a tunnel. Loveless' train, equipped with huge hydraulic spider's legs, had been able to hide while the Wanderer passed it. Loveless' train then follows the Wanderer and opens fire on it. West tries to make use of "The Egressor" (a small rail-cart) that will allow him to board Loveless' train, but the cable attaching it breaks and he has to use Gordon's rubber rope. When one of Loveless' men attacks West, he uses a blade Gordon built into his shoe to kill the man. He stuffs the man's body in the train's smokestack, disabling it. Meanwhile, Loveless has stopped the Wanderer with a giant grappling missile. When West boards the Wanderer, Rita assumes it's Loveless and knocks all three of them out with Gordon's sleeping gas billiard ball.Loveless commandeers the Wanderer and takes them prisoner, and takes Rita for himself. Loveless outfits Gordon and West with the same collars as Dr. Morton and places them in a wire-fenced patch of ground near a cornfield. Loveless takes the Wanderer and rides off, telling them he'll be at Spider Canyon and later at Promontory Point, Utah. Gordon finds a note in his pocket saying that the wired area is Loveless' experimental prison camp for "political dissidents" and that if they remain within the wire, they'll live. West foolhardily steps outside the barrier and the magnetic collar on his neck activates a nearby machine, which throws two giant saw blades at them. The blades are attracted to powerful magnets in the collars and both are force to run. They're finally able to force the saw blades to collide when they jump into a nearby crevice of muck. After several mishaps with the magnetic collars, Gordon sees his toolkit floating in the water. He realizes he had his toolkit in his pocket the entire time and removes the magnetic collars.The two begin a long hike to Spider Canyon. While camping in the desert at night, Gordon notices that West is skilled enough to live in the desert. West explains that he'd become a fugitive slave when he was a boy and was raised by Native Americans. Gordon notices a tarantula on West's hand, and he lets it go. A desert wasp promptly attacks the spider, and West tells Gordon the wasp will kill the spider and lay its eggs inside the spider. West tells Gordon that he saw his parents again at the camp at New Liberty. Gordon pledges to help West get Loveless.As the two continue on, Gordon carries one of the magnetic collars because he thinks the high-powered magnet could be useful. The collar suddenly pulls him to the right and stops when it connects to a buried set of railroad tracks. The rail line leads directly to Spider Canyon where they find the Wanderer. In the canyon below, they see Loveless' private fortress. Moments later, Loveless appears driving an 80-foot tall mechanical tarantula, fully armored and powered by coal and hydraulics. When a large group of rocks blocks it from moving, the contraption shoots giant fireballs, which destroy the rocks.Gordon and West load up using the Wanderer's arsenal and ride on horseback after Loveless. Loveless rides his machine to Promontory Point where President Grant attends the spike driving ceremony of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Loveless demands the unconditional surrender of the nation to the "Loveless Alliance". Grant refuses so Loveless uses his fire cannon to destroy Grant's train. Suddenly, another Grant (Gordon in disguise) appears and tells Loveless that the real Grant is an impostor and tries to dismiss him. Meanwhile, West has scaled one of the spider's legs, but Loveless' woman Munitia shoots him. Loveless takes both Gordon and Grant prisoner and he returns to his fortress. West wakes up later, alive because he was wearing Gordon's chain-mail vest that stopped the bullet.At the fortress, Loveless announces to his foreign allies that the United States will be divided up among them and himself, with Spain, Great Britain, Mexico, and France having their former territorial claims to the continent restored. Meanwhile, West returns to the Wanderer and finds it stripped of all its weapons. The only gun left is a single-shot Derringer hidden in a belt buckle. Loveless orders the execution of Gordon when Grant refuses to sign the surrender. An exotic dancing girl, West in drag, appears and begins to tempt Loveless. West passes the tiny pistol to Gordon and activates a flamethrower built into the dress. Loveless orders West killed and he escapes to his mechanical spider with the president. West then rolls an incendiary 8-ball at Loveless' men, and Rita and her father are able to escape.Gordon and West regroup and, inspired by Da Vinci's flying machine and the desert wasp, formulate a plan to attack the spider using a mechanical bicycle outfitted with wings. Coleman tells them he is a U.S. Marshal and gives them firebombs made from gunpowder, nitroglycerin, and 44-caliber primers. Though the contraption seems destined to fail, it works when Gordon pilots it off a cliff. Loveless again asks Grant to sign the surrender, but destroys a town with the mechanical spider when Grant refuses. Gordon and West fly to the spider and begin to drop the bombs on it. Munitia, firing a Gatling gun, shoots them out of the sky and they crash land on deck of the spider. Loveless' women take them to Loveless, where he offers them a deal to join his alliance. West refuses, so Loveless drops him to the engine room through a trap door. West battles hand-to-hand with several of Loveless' henchmen and defeats them, drawing Loveless to the engine room. West kicks Loveless and disables his wheelchair. Loveless reveals a set of mechanical spider legs underneath his wheelchair and pummels West and pins him to the floor. Gordon disarms and defeats Loveless' women on the upper deck, then shoots the small Derringer at Loveless. Gordon misses Loveless but hits one of the hydraulic lines of his mechanical legs, causing Loveless to sink to the floor. Loveless climbs back into his wheelchair and shoots at West with a double-barreled pistol built into the wheelchair. West dodges, and the shot hits the steam pipes. The giant tarantula loses power and goes over a cliff, catching a rock outcropping that stops it on the edge. The impact throws West and Loveless out the front and they dangle from a chain above a deep canyon. After challenging West for being "yellow" and a "boy", West pulls the lever on Loveless' wheelchair and the two men plummet. West catches the end of the chain and Loveless falls into the canyon.Back at Promontory Point, Grant tells West and Gordon that he's forming a new government presidential protection service called the Secret Service. West and Gordon are agents One and Two. He also takes the Wanderer to return to Washington, leaving West to use Loveless' spider. Rita reveals that Professor Escobar is not her father, but is her husband. West and Gordon ride the spider into the sun.

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld  

Starring Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Laurence Fishburne, Kenneth Branagh, more...

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