UK Release Date: 5th June 2015
Runtime: 120 minutes
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Miranda Hart, Allison Janney, Jude Law, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Serafinowicz, Ben Falcone
Synopsis: After the death of a top agent, a CIA desk worker goes out into the field in order to track down a nuclear weapon.
Since helming Bridesmaids, writer-director Paul Feig has obtained a hell of a reputation for being a guy who understands how funny women can be. Alongside lucky charm leading lady Melissa McCarthy, Feig has been in charge of many of the last few years’ best comedy films. That’s a trend that continues with the outrageous, often hilarious, action spoof Spy.
Susan (McCarthy) works as the eyes and ears for CIA agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Fine is killed on the trail of Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who is the only person alive who knows the whereabouts of a nuclear weapon. When CIA boss Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) selects Susan to take the case, macho agent Rick (Jason Statham) quits in disgust, only to tail Susan’s investigation.
It would be easy to suggest that, in 2015, the notion of spoofing spy movies is somewhat outdated. The Austin Powers trilogy spent the late 90s lampooning Bond into oblivion, which has left subsequent spoofs – notably this year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service – looking a little limp. That problem does not afflict Spy, though, which breathes new life into its sub-genre.
| “I once used defibrillators on myself. I put shards of glass in my fucking eye.”
It helps that Melissa McCarthy is comfortably one of the funniest women on the planet. Freed from simply playing a cynical caricature in films like Tammy, McCarthy is effortlessly hilarious as Susan, who is a driven woman completely out of her depth. She has excellent chemistry with Rose Byrne, who hams it up to great effect as over-cranked villain Rayna.
Spy is a rare action film in which women are both the heroes and the villains, which creates a new, interesting dynamic. Male characters, such as Jason Statham’s delightfully self-referential macho man and Peter Serafinowicz’s heavily-accented sex pest, are chucked to the sidelines. Feig has done a great job of writing great roles for women in his comedy films and here he proves once again that women are very funny indeed.
That’s not to say that Spy is free of issues. In common with many recent Hollywood comedies, it’s at least twenty minutes too long and relies slightly too heavily on berating the audience with F-bombs in place of jokes. But when it’s funny, it’s really funny and packs in some smart, quotable quips in amongst the crude stuff. Statham’s character gets many of the best lines, regailing McCarthy with overblown stories of what a “real spy” does.
| “I look like someone’s homophobic aunt.”
In a year in which Hollywood comedy has been consistently disappointing, Spy is a welcome breath of fresh air that suggests great things for Feig’s upcoming Ghostbusters movie. The film hands Melissa McCarthy her best role since Bridesmaids and shows that there are still some bullets left in the chamber of the spy spoof.
Pop or Poop?
An antidote to the male-dominated world of R-rated comedy, Spy is a film that positions women at front and centre at every point of the movie – from heroism to villainy.
Melissa McCarthy is excellent and bounces off Rose Byrne to great effect, both benefiting from Jason Statham’s willingness to send up his own persona.
It’s too long and leans on the foul language hard, but there are plenty of laughs to be had.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.