Spy (Paul Feig, 2015)
If you’re not already on the Melissa McCarthy bandwagon then you should promptly jump on, because the woman is hilarious. But unfortunately, her billing never comes with a guarantee of a quality film, as her film choices tend to be hit and miss. For every Bridesmaids, there is an Identify Thief, and even her recent foray into screenwriting was not well-received, with Tammy bombing at the box-office after multiple changes to its scheduled release. All is not lost though, as she is back with a vengeance in Spy, where she reteams with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) for some ball-busting espionage fun.
Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is introduced as a shy, lovestruck, CIA analyst who spends her days behind a desk, with an ear-piece connecting her to her dreamy partner, Bradley Fine (Jude Law). When Fine and his fellow agents are compromised, Cooper volunteers for a mission aimed at bringing down arms dealer, Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). Delighted at the thought of clever gadgets, sexy cars, and a glamourous disguise, she is brought back down to earth when her new identity is revealed. Though instructed to stay out of sight, she is soon caught in the middle of the action, and it’s up to her to bring the mofos down.
Spy takes the piss out of the spy genre, with its opening credits a clear reference to James Bond. It has all the hallmarks of a Bond film, though its tongue remains firmly in cheek as the ludicrous plot is unveiled. Some of the humour tries too hard, but there are some truly hilarious moments. In particular, Jason Statham as a ridiculously exaggerated hard-core agent gets some of the best lines, while the sleazy Italian character (Peter Serafinowicz), though crass and relying on stereotypes, has a brilliant reveal in the finale.
The key difference though, is Spy’s protagonist. Susan Cooper starts off as a painfully shy, polite, uncommanding woman, who by film’s end is a ballsy, unapologetic hero. She slings insults like nobody’s business, and doesn’t shy away from a physical fight either. Melissa McCarthy is all over this and Paul Feig clearly made this role just for her. The swearing is pretty excessive, and obviously won’t float everyone’s boat, but the relentless profanity manages to add a touch of realism to a film that is otherwise totally ridiculous. Rose Byrne’s Rayna in particular drops the F-bomb right, left, and centre, but would you expect classiness from someone in those clothes and with that hairstyle? No, she is tack central, and her dialogue is simply a further embellishment.
Spy is by no means a perfect film. Some of the jokes fall flat, and Jude Law should never attempt any accent beside his own ever again (remember that time when he was meant to be Australian in Contagion? LOLZ!) But this is a heap of fun. McCarthy is at her best, and is ably supported by Jason Statham, Allison Janney, Jude Law (let’s ignore the accent for a moment), Bobby Cannavale, and the hilarious Miranda Hart. It might not have the sophistication of a true Bond film, but it provides laughs in spades.