I’m sure nobody expects miracles from a film like this; the comic spy is a role which has been played to death, let’s be honest. Much in the same way as Melissa McCarthy’s career actually, who since her great performance in ‘Bridesmaids’, has taken on pretty much the same role time and time again. And throwing Jude Law and Jason Statham into a comedy film too? Come off it. Admittedly however, the trailers for ‘Spy’ had drawn me in just enough to give it a go. I hoped for a few laughs and a reasonably entertaining experience, at best.
Susan ‘Coop’ Cooper (McCarthy) works for the CIA from the safety of her desk, helping agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) navigate his way through some sticky situations in the field. When Bradley is killed in action by Bulgarian crime vixen Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), the CIA learns that none of their agents are safe. With the criminal underworld all too familiar with their agents, the CIA decides to send Coop – a woman who has never been seen in the field – undercover to infiltrate Boyanov’s plans to sell her father’s handy little bomb to the highest bidder. Through a minefield of double crossing and rogue agents, and LOTS of silly, slapstick moments, Coop goes on a one woman mission to prove she is a legitimate agent.
As I have said, Melissa McCarthy portrays the same old ‘bubbly’ fool and I am so bored of it now. Paul Feig obviously likes her in this way, but something has to change. Credit where credit is due though, McCarthy does deliver adequately in some of the action scenes, but I am starting to question whether comedy is really her forte. Despite Rose Byrne’s debatable come-and-go Bulgarian accent, she does maintain her catty, ruthless humour throughout, which was actually one of the few high points of the whole film. She is rather impressive as a villain, and I would be happy to see her take on an antagonist role in a more serious film in the future. Believe it or not, Jason Statham was actually the best thing about ‘Spy’, which says a lot about the film. His depiction of a foul-mouthed, aggressive, British agent was played very consciously over the top, but was the main source of laughs for me personally. He may have been an A-lister heartthrob a decade ago, but Jude Law’s brief involvement in this instance was very average. If only I could say the same for Miranda Hart and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, whose cameo appearances were quite simply awful and horrible to watch.
Fair play to Paul Feig for taking this project in a very self-consciously cheesy, satirical and theatrical direction. At least I hope he was aware of how ridiculous the film was. The action scenes were actually pretty impressive at times, but as part of the comedy genre, this film fails miserably and just doesn’t work for me. The elaborate (and I imagine very expensive) climactic scenes suggest that Feig was handed a pretty hefty budget, which wasn’t always put to good use, wasted on gimmicks and unnecessarily convoluted stunts.
Unusual for a comedy, ‘Spy’ actually had a pretty decent storyline behind it, and I did chuckle a few times. My sides were never at risk of splitting however. The audience around me, predominantly made up of 50+ year olds, were loving the cheap jokes, which I think says more about them than it does the film. Honestly, I wouldn’t waste your time or money going to see this at the cinema. The only thing stopping me from walking out halfway through was the fact I had literally nothing better to do.
DIRECTOR: PAUL FEIG
STARRING: MELISSA MCCARTHY, JUDE LAW, JASON STATHAM, ROSE BYRNE