Earlier this year, we were treated to Matthew Vaughn's hilarious and action-packed Kingsman: The Sercet Service. And, now, Paul Feig's endeavour into the espionage genre has arrived, with the Melissa McCarthy starring Spy. But just how good is it?
We kick off in a similar vein to any familiar spy franchise, with explosions aplenty and guns blazing, as Jude Law's smartly dressed Bradley Fine tries to locate a nuclear bomb in a towering mansion. He's not the star of the show though as we're then introduced to our lead lady, Melissa McCarthy's Susan Cooper, who's job isn't as glamorous - desk-bound and guiding Fine through his tasks.
However, after a trap set by nefarious arms dealer Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne) results in Fine's death, Cooper's invaluable anonymity and dormant field skills are called upon when she is sent to 'track and report' Boyanov and her associates - to gather intel on the potential sale of a nuclear bomb. Taking various disguises throughout her mission, Cooper begins to get closer and closer to Boyonav. There's backpack bombs, dissolving throats and a rogue agent - played by Jason Statham - that gets in the way of everything all thrown in for good measure too.
Good actor and director partnerships are a rarity these days. However, the tag-team duo of Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy is a force to be reckoned with; a pairing that will challenge even the stronghold Scorcese and DiCaprio couplet. There was something special about Bridesmaids, catching us off guard and taking the world by storm. It was hilarious. What followed was The Heat which, undoubtedly, wasn't as good but was still a great comedy in its own right.
Now, Feig's latest directing gig lands him with Spy (also his first credited screenplay in 13 years) - a funny, feel-good parody of the genre that houses franchises like Mission Imposssible, The Bourne films and, of course, 007. It's not as funny as Bridesmaids or The Heat but it's certainly a lot more fun than the latter. That's the keyword here: fun. If there's one thing this film is, it's that. You're going to go into Spy and you're going to walk out having enjoyed yourself.
Overall, the acting in this film is good. McCarthy is great as Cooper. She brings a lot of charisma to the proceedings and it's a more toned down, sweet role than we've seen her in before. But that's ok. It's nothing like last year's atrocity, Tammy, so that's a plus right there. There's a lot of great one-liners from her character too, as is expected. Upon meeting Byrne's antagonist, she switches gear to the more sarcastic McCarthy we're used to and, although the character change does come out of nowhere, it's very welcome and still funny to watch.
Speaking of Byrne, she makes a fine villain. She's very nice to look at and her conditioned, flawless hair will give any teenage girl angst about their appearance but who cares, it's Rose Byrne. Her ambitions are never really revealed though and sometimes her character is made out to be a little too dumb than is funny and it can get a bit much. We also have Jude Law and Miranda Hart lending some support too. The former doesn't have a lot of screen time but, when he appears, he gives a 'Fine' performance (get it, because his character's called Fine...) whereas the latter had a bit too much screen time and was just annoying.
The real standout though was Jason Statham's Rick Ford. He was easily the best thing about Spy, as the clumsy agent that was a little more cocky and big-headed than he should have been. He told such outlandish, exaggerated stories about past experiences at every opportunity he got and, well, it was hilarious. Knowing just how bulked up and badass Statham is, it had the audience wondering just what of Ford's sagas were true... although one tale of how he killed himself by ingesting poisons, to make himself immune, may have us questioning how on Earth he became a CIA agent.
Feig's a comedy aficionado and he clearly knows how to do humour. A lot of the jokes hit and there's a lot of laughs. There's never any gut-bustingly funny gags but there's a lot of smaller, laugh out loud moments to compensate. However, saying this, there's still a large handful of jokes that didn't hit and that just seemed a tad forced instead. The plot is riddled with clichés too and this a film that doesn't try to be too intellectual, yet still manage to be a bit too weird and stupid at times. Spy is aware of what it is though and it achieves its ambitions. It all comes back down to the fact that it's a fun, entertaining comedy.
Although, Spy works best as an action film that it does a comedy. Aside from some gross-out, rude jokes, this film deserves its '15/R' rating for how bloody it is. There's a lot of violence here. Best of all, it all works and is great to watch unfold on-screen.
The biggest pitfall for this project though, quite simply has to be the fact that it plays way too much like Kingsman, which only just released a few months back. There's a lot of similarities in the two flicks and, if you've seen the Matthew Vaughn helmed film, then you can't help but compare it when watching this and, unfortunately, Spy just isn't as good.
That's not to say this is a bad spy film because it's anything but. The whole cast is on top form and looking like they're having the time of their life; the comedy and action is great and this just works. It's an ideal Sunmer movie that is guaranteed fun, if nothing else. Isn't that exactly what a Summer film is supposed to be though? Fun? Well this is just that.
The great team of Feig and McCarthy excel yet again. Packed with lots of laughs, even more action and masses of dangerous fun, Spy is an ideal Summer film that is sure to entertain.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.