SPY (USA/15A/119mins)
Directed by Paul Feig. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz, Morena Baccarin, Jude Law.
THE PLOT: Susan Cooper (McCarthy) just might be getting tired of being the CIA’s top analyst, of sitting in front of a bank of screens and being the navigator for the cool agents out there fighting crime. Especially when those agents out in the big bad world keep messing up. Putting herself forward as an unlikely Janice Bond, Susan can certainly talk the talk, given her years of virtual combat, but can she walk the walk. A real concern, given that she’s not exactly at the peak of fitness. Still, big cheese Elaine Crocker (Janney) has faith in this plucky little chicken, and so the unlikely DD7 is sent to observer and report on cunning arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Byrne), her undercover work hampered somewhat by a jealous rival agent (Statham), an Italian loverboy with a fondness for chubbies (Serafinowicz), and a pencil-pusher navigator (Hart).
THE VERDICT: It’s a relief to see the highly likeable and downright huggable Melissa McCarthy lead a genuinely likeable and huggable movie once again, given her post-BRIDESMAIDS disasters IDENTITY THIEF, THE HEAT and TAMMY. Reunited with Bridesmaid director Paul Feig for a second time – after THE HEAT – McCarthy finally gets to have some real fun here, going full Fanny English as the spy who really knows too little.
Aided and abetted by some stock English cartoons – played by Jude Law, Jason Statham and Miranda Hart – the Americans (especially Janney and the always-reliable Rose Byrne) keep up their side of the bargain. A hoot. As they say in England.
Review by Paul Byrne

Review By Paul Byrne
3.0A hoot!
  • filmbuff2011

    Before he reboots Ghostbusters with a mostly female cast, Bridesmaids director Paul Feig brings raucous action comedy Spy to our screens. It’s more than a tad inspired by James Bond, given that it starts with a pre-title sequence involving former Bond candidate Jude Law as Bradley, a self-obsessed CIA agent infiltrating a glamourous party in Bulgaria. He’s supported back home in Langley by reliable desk-bound analyst Susan (Melissa McCarthy), but yet he bungles the mission and loses the WMD that he was supposed to retrieve. CIA head Elaine (Allison Janney) calls in gruff and yes, self-obsessed, agent Rick (Jason Statham) to deal with the situation. But she also needs someone invisible to track and report on the movements of Raina (Rose Byrne), who is mixed up in negotiations with the WMD. Susan puts her hand up – she has the training, even if she isn’t quite the ideal candidate. Elaine accepts her surprising offer and packs her bags and jets off to Europe, in a variety of unflattering disguises, with Rick popping up every now and then. But when Susan saves Elaine from a poisoned drink, she’s going to breach protocol and get more involved in the field anyway, with hilarious results… With its Bondian title sequence, there’s no doubt that writer/director Feig has made a cross between a James Bond film and Bridesmaids. But whereas women are generally play-things for Bond, the opposite is true for Spy. Women are smarter and more resourceful than men in this film. Feig is a great at writing for women and working with McCarthy again is an obvious choice. She can be painful to watch at times (e.g. The Heat), but she’s on great form here, spewing out expletive-laden insults and barbed comments as if it was a national past-time. It’s refreshing to see a comedy that isn’t afraid to go for broad laughs and fruity language without the need to pander to a lower, family-friendly rating. There are plenty of laughs to be had here, often courtesy of the interaction between McCarthy and Statham, whose character friction is frequently rib-tickling. Stay for the fun end credits for an extra scene. Some of the other characters, such as Bobby Cannavale’s De Luca feel a little undercooked, only showing up late in the game and not making much impact storywise. However, there’s much to enjoy here – whether it’s the idea of McCarthy as the most unlikely but actually convincing secret agent or Feig’s confident, even direction. Better than it initially looked from the trailer, Spy is a hoot. ****

  • emerb

    Director Paul Feig reunites with Melissa McCarthy in the hilarious secret agent spoof thriller “Spy”. With an excellent supporting cast and plenty of cheery fun, this consistently pleasurable comedy is sure to be one of the best laughs you will get this summer and is sure to bring in strong business.

    McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a mousy and eager-to-please keyboard jockey stuck behind a desk at the CIA headquarters who ends up being forced into active duty. The film opens with an extended combat sequence in Bulgaria, where the suave and charismatic super-agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) blows away a series of thugs as he tries to locate a nuclear bomb. Susan is the voice
    in his earpiece talking him through every complex scenario, watching via drones or satellites and doing his work so he can magically dodge each bullet and kill his enemies. It’s a highly effective working relationship but it makes the hard-working Susan feeling like a secretary rather than an experienced agent who has had years of successful field training. She’s also madly in love with him but it’s unrequited and he just sees her as a single, middle-aged, overweight loner only fit for demeaning tasks such as firing his gardener.

    When Fine is suddenly assassinated by a glamorous but mysterious and haughty Bulgarian arms dealer named Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who claims
    to know the identity of every active agent who might stop her, the CIA reluctantly turns to Cooper, who was trained as a field agent before getting stuck at a desk. Susan is determined to avenge her partner’s death, arguing that she’s the only one who won’t be recognized. She’s sent on a “track and report” mission to observe Byrne’s movements but not to engage anyone personally. She is equipped with a string of decidedly unsexy false identities such as a cat lady and a divorced mother on vacation and is armed with both a frumpy cover ID and a raft of self-protection weapons amusingly disguised as wipes for piles and stool-softening pills. Her excitable colleague Nancy (Miranda Hart) will guide her via earpiece and she will get occasional field help from Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz), an amorous but sleazy Italian associate.

    Susan’s whirlwind international adventure takes her globe hopping from Paris to Rome to Budapest. When her cover is almost blown, she is forced to befriend Rayna. She is required to drop the ugly-American guise and pass herself off as Rayna’s personal bodyguard. This necessitates her inventing a new cover for herself, one that allows her to unleash the foul-mouthed, hilarious head-butting, expletive-hurling and full on explosiveness that we so love in McCarthy. This new persona quickly discards her earlier timidity and taps into the bold brassiness
    that made her one of the CIA’s most promising trainees before she was sidelined into a desk job.

    It’s great to see McCarthy get a leading role worthy of her talents. She really comes into her own in this movie and I think this marks her smartest and funniest big screen appearance to date. Her charming and lovable character owns this movie and she proves to be a hoot with both the action and the comedy sequences. It’s hard to think of any other actor who could pull it off so well. She
    is the perfect mixture of internal insecurity and outward bravado and you really care about her character and root for her to succeed. Whether she’s dangling from the bottom of a helicopter, slamming a frying pan over the head of a knife-wielding super model or vomiting in disbelief over the corpse of a criminal she’s just eliminated, her performance is consistently priceless and smart. Feig also gets the best from the stellar line up of supporting actors who each manage to give out their funny quips without breaking character. I particularly enjoyed the deadpan style comedy from Statham as Rick Ford, who quits when he hears Susan is going out on the field. In a way he mocks the typical action character he plays and his detailing of all the death-defying things he has done is hilarious. Byrne is especially enjoyable here too with her gaudy vertical beehive hairpiece
    and her character that oscillates between ice-cold bitchiness, snobby, judgemental and utter cluelessness. Law clearly had great fun with his role as the debonair Fine and his rapport with Susan adds just enough pathos to justify her determination to avenge his murder.

    “Spy” gets the balance between action and comedy just right and the result is an outrageous comedy which is undeniably highly entertaining. Feig has helped shatter the notion that audiences won’t be drawn to female-driven comedies and he populates this movie with many downright hilarious women. Most of the joy in the movie comes from watching McCarthy who is not just funny but charismatic
    and vulnerable. The plot isn’t entirely clear and it’s no Oscar winner but “Spy” is just a whole lot of fun, you can’t help but love it!

  • Randy

    Spy reunited Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy following such comedy hits as Bridesmaids and The Heat. Their 3rd outing stands tall as being on par with Kingsman: The Secret Service – another fun romp of a film poking fun at spy movies, as well as providing solid entertainment and a dramatic story arc to go with it. Mellissa McCarthy excels in this one by showing her many facets, not just the adorable, bubbly woman, and she makes us laugh. There are also brilliant turns by Jason Statham – finally showing his funny side, Rose Byrne savouring the role of the callous but not very bright villain, and Jude Law, channeling James Bond, with a flair. Set piece are stunning, with Budapest posing as the Europe-trotting destinations (and you can’t tell the difference). If you feel like seeing plenty of action with a barrel of laughs, look no further. Suddenly, the female Ghostbusters doesn’t sound like such an atrocious idea…

  • Martin

    I was dragged to this and I expected it to be terrible but it wasn’t and it was far from terrible I didn’t like bridesmaids or the heat so I thought oh no but it was very good. Mccarthy is good for the type of comedy she does which is more physical then jokes and she puts it to good work here. But in my opinion jason statham is the best on screen, it’s good they way he is making fun of the other movies he does and it’s a breath of fresh air to see him in this type of role. Just don’t go expecting too much and then hopefully like me you will be pleasently surprised.