Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda hart, Bobby Cannavale, Alison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz and Jude Law
Directed by: Paul Feig
Cert: 15A Running time: 119 mins
Release Date: June 5th 2015
There’s a secret rhythm and chemistry to great director-actor pairings. More often showcased with male directors and actors from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, to Scorsese and De Niro, that unique relationship can be priceless when it comes to the onscreen magic it inspires. Third time out, writer/director Paul Feig knows how to get the best out of Melissa McCarthy and it’s a collaboration that is getting stronger and funnier as they go. With Spy they have delivered a laugh-out-loud hilarious comedy that blends humour and action in a gorgeously spiky Bond inspired cocktail.
McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA operative who has found herself behind a desk for most of her career as the eyes and ears for superspy Bradley Fine (played by Jude Law). She has been in his earpiece on every mission but when the identities of all of the CIA’s top operatives are exposed in the hunt for a stolen nuclear weapon, Susan offers herself as an unlikely replacement in tracking the bad guys led by Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne).
There’s lots of humour wrung from the various false identities Susan takes on, typified by ‘the cat lady’ but it’s when she transforms herself into spy femme fatale that the funniest digs are thrown. Byrne goads her repeatedly about the absolute state of her in that ‘abortion of a dress’ while McCarthy takes shots at her ‘slutty dolphin trainer’ outfit and oversized hair. Their constant trade of vicious barbs is comedy gold. As irreverent as her character in The Heat, this is no holds barred and McCarthy unleashes her foul-mouthed tirades with relish in a script that is cuttingly sharp and bitingly funny.
Jason Statham, as a fellow agent objecting to Susan’s mission, is like a kid in a comedy sweet shop. His unhinged, been-there-done-it spy is joyous in his meanness towards inexperienced Susan and Statham unleashes a flair for physical slapstick comedy that sends up his usual cool action man persona. Law also revels in his goofier moments and a scene early on with McCarthy as he bestows a gift of jewellery to her is priceless. British comedienne Miranda Hart pops ups as a co-worker in the rat infested CIA basement office (an amusing running joke) and while initially she looks out of place, her interplay with McCarthy grows and she comes into her own. Also Peter Serafinowicz as Aldo, an Italian agent with his roving eye and wandering hands, makes for some deliciously inappropriate moments.
Peppered with moments of shocking violence, gratuity, and inopportune vomiting, you never see what’s coming next. This is not a spoof of spy movies but rather a funny, riotous homage. The only misstep in the two hours is unfortunately a cameo by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone (who last directed her in misfire Tammy). It seems rushed, like he just happened to be there that day and they grabbed him. It’s the only joke that falls flat.
McCarthy proves herself yet again with her fearlessness and ninja comic timing. Reportedly next up for her and Feig will be the female-led Ghostbusters reboot. Can’t wait! ****