Melissa McCarthy stars in this wacky spy comedy.
Director and writer Paul Feig (of Bridesmaids fame) attempts to rejuvenate the now stale spy comedy genre with his quirky take on the world of espionage. After flops such as Get Smart and The Heat this latest offering shows another side to the glamour and intrigue of the C.I.A. In the line of genre classics such as Johnny English and Austin Powers, Spy centres on a subverted plot where the main focus is not the brilliance of the debonair tuxedoed man but rather the faux pas of the goofy, inexperienced partner with a few good laughs along the way.
McCarthy stars as Susan Cooper, a desk bound analyst partnered with C.I.A. super-agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Despite appearances it is actually Susan who is the voice in Fine’s ear and the brain behind his many marvellous escapes. When he is killed by an evil millionaire she vows revenge and despite her inexperience takes to the field to hunt down the bad guys. As you may have guessed the film is based on a pretty standard spy plot model, but there are a few twists and quirks (the villain being female is one refreshing element) the Feig/McCarthy partnership does provide several great comedic moments unseen in other spy flicks.
McCarthy’s performance probably won’t win her any Oscars but she does a great job. Her comedic timing and bread-and-butter slapstick moments are fresh and the jokes are original. Her characters journey from sickly sweet introvert to foul-mouthed, gun-toting secret agent is a little bit over the top but the snarky, witty way in which the film is presented really works to make it just a little bit different.
The secondary characters are at times ridiculous – Jason Statham as an English hard-man is possibly the most overdone role in current cinema – but the performance is of his usual high quality and (albeit down to Feig’s comedic skill) his intense monologues actually have the effect of producing a few laugh-out-loud moments for the audience. Miranda Hart and Rose Byrne also star but contribute little to the plot.
It may not be the most memorable film, but Spy is an enjoyable watch. It does what it can in a pretty overcrowded genre. The plot is undeniably quite standard but it is well written and the cast executed their roles with great comedic skill. If anything, watching Miranda Hart bull-rush 50 Cent is not something you will have seen before.
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law
Running Time: 120 minutes