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Television

Review: Noisy ‘Agent X,’ starring Sharon Stone, channels James Bond

‘Agent X’

Sharon Stone stars in “Agent X.” Much of the time the “Agent X” runs like a video game.

(TNT)
Los Angeles Times Television Critic

So Sharon Stone, the movie star, has a TV series, and it is a noisy bit of nonsense called “Agent X,” in which Stone, as the newly elected vice president of the United States, learns that the job comes with its own super-secret agent (Jeff Hephner as John Case).

Also it comes with a “steward” (Gerald McRaney), who is both Alfred to the Veep’s Bruce Wayne and Robin to Case’s Batman, figuratively speaking. And that the series, which begins Sunday on TNT, opens the same weekend as the new James Bond movie may be coincidental, but the resemblances are not.

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Indeed, it says right here in the press pack, “John Case is an American James Bond.” But you would have seen that for yourself.

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Much of the time “Agent X” runs like a video game. There’ll be a lot of shooting and hitting and blowing things up as Case and various enemies and allies move through this room into that room, from indoors to outdoors and so on.

And then there’ll be some talking to move the plot along. And then there’ll be more running and shooting and punching. It does get a little more complicated as it goes on — there are wheels within wheels, and plots behind plots — but action is the main course here, however many semi-meaningful dramatic condiments surround it.

It’s a typical paranoid thriller in which the nation of, by and for the people is under constant apocalyptic threat from bodies foreign and domestic — but which has the protection of a special clause written into a secret copy of the Constitution that authorizes “an agent of unknown identity … to serve at the discretion of the vice president for the purpose of aiding the country in times of dire peril.”

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McRaney’s character clarifies for his new boss: “The founding fathers understood, ma’am, that certain emergencies require the judicious disregard for accepted legal formalities.” I will clarify further: “It’s OK to break the law, if the vice president says you can.”

Aaron Burr, Henry Wallace, Agnew, Quayle, Gore, down through the ages, keeping us safe.

James Earl Jones picks up a paycheck as the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who is also in on the secret, applying his deep and resonant voice to lines such as, “I hope you like Girl Scout cookies; I’m practically addicted to the little mint devils,” and even more ominously, “We’re talking patriotism, not politics: In times of crisis we take our hatchets and we bury them — into the backs of our real enemies.”

Stone, who is basically playing Jim Phelps with a touch of Hillary Rodham Clinton, is fine, though she never really breaks a sweat. It’s nice to see her, anyway, and one hopes she’ll find some interesting independent films to do next.

And Hephner is a capable action hero — he’s got the running and shooting and punching down, but also the smiling and flirting and whatnot. (Similarly gifted women come in and out of his orbit.)

“Noisy bit of nonsense” is not a criticism, by the way.

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‘Agent X’

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Where: TNT

When: 9 p.m. Sunday

Rating: TV-14-DLV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14, with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and violence)

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