Paul Feig rolls the dice with an espionage comedy bringing a few familiar faces along for the ride.
Spy was a potentially tough pill for the world to swallow at this point. While Paul Feig started well and has made some soon to be classic comedies, his pairings with the often cringe worthy Melissa McCarthy have become almost stale. Add to that the amazing success and enjoyable experience that Kingsman was and we have already surely crowned the ‘Best Espionage Action Comedy’ Oscar winner at next years academy awards. Luckily then Feig has returned to some of his best work and provided us with something fresh and hilarious.
Spy sees Melissa McCarthy leaving her underground CIA assistants job and take to the field after her James Bond-esque co-worker Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is killed by the daughter of a high profile terrorist looking to on-sell a nuclear weapon. As the plot takes us across Europe we see McCarthy assume a range of disguises as she looks to get close to Rose Byrne’s Rayna Boyanov. We also find rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) and CIA back up from Miranda Hart’s basement assistant Nancy in the mix. Every situation and character is played for laughs but not at the expense of the plot. We are lead through a 007 style threat in 007 scenery with less than mostly 007 characters.
I have not been a fan of Melissa McCarthy in the part. The new queen of comedy often plays the victim of others abuse or the dumb American and while that can be funny, it becomes monotonous and predictable after multiple films of it. For the first half an hour here it looked like that was what we were in for and i prepared myself to groan throughout. Her boss is mean to her, her coworkers are mean to her and she becomes a diminutive character failing upwards. Luckily the film takes a strong hook turn, and without venturing into spoiler territory, McCarthy gains a hard backbone that creates some of the moat enjoyable back and forth of the film and elevates this into a viciously witty comedy.
Feig is the master at writing strong female characters at this point. Bridesmaids was a tremendous success because of its universal language and ability to elevate the characters beyond stereotypes. Spy does a similar job as we see all but 2 of the major roles occupied by women. But none fall into stereotype and instead play strong and feminine characters understanding that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Byrne and McCarthy have amazing verbal sparing matches, each gaining the upper hand at times with foul mouthed strength, their battles extending further to beating down the bumbling male figures around them, traditionally the suave ladykillers being put in their place.
Spy surprised me. I was expecting a lame duck of a film but stayed positive based upon Feig’s ability and luckily I was rewarded with an enjoyable film that combines strong action sequences with belly laughs. Its not a film i will go and see at the cinema again but will revisit for sure. The only request I have is that directors and writers get away from vomit jokes for a while, please.