Bridesmaids helmsman Paul Feig returns to directorial action with comedic muse Melissa McCarthy for action-comedy, Spy. Also starring Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Jason Statham and Miranda Hart, this secret service-themed outing is James Bond meets Johnny English, Feig style.
Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is the CIA’s hidden gem. Despite being top of her class, and a pretty nifty fighter to boot, she’s found herself working as the office-based earpiece for the service’s top agent, Bradley Fine (Law), for the past three years. When Fine is murdered by the villainous Rayna Boyanov (Byrne), Cooper – to the annoyance of fellow spy, Ford (Statham) – is selected to head an intelligence gathering mission to discover Boyanov’s whereabouts before she can sell a nuclear bomb to a terrorist organisation. Her assignment quickly takes an unexpected turn, and with the help of her CIA chum, Nancy (Hart), the pair set out to stop the Bulgarian mobster from carrying out her deadly transaction.
As the opening credits roll out in typical 007 fashion, accompanied with Ivy Levan’s Adele-like theme song, “Who Can You Trust?”, the tone is quickly, and unashamably blatantly, set. The Bond-like flavour continues into the film’s first scene, as we are gifted a viewing of what appears to be Jude Law’s leaked The World Is Not Enough audition tape, as he does his best Pierce Brosnan impression (oh, what we missed out on!) to humourlessly deadly effect.
Not quite a spoof, yet gleefully happy to tip its cap to the action genre, Spy attempts to mix Bond-based clichés with a mix of straight-edged action and goofy humour. Cool looking gadgets and flashy sports cars are aplenty, as McCarthy impressively jumps into intense knife fights and high octane car chases. The funny woman is in good form yet again, mixing her sharp wit and ass-kicking fight sequences with ease, although her quick transformation into an expletive filled, loud-mouthed bodyguard as she hides her real identity from Boyanov was a little too much.
It is Statham’s portrayal of the extremely British spy Fine that is the director’s biggest success. Essentially taking the piss out of his own action-centred career, his straight-faced approach is played out perfectly, bringing to the table some of the best one-liners of the entire spectacle. Rose Byrne appears to have plenty of fun as the not-so-Bulgarian-sounding Boyanov, as does Peter Serafinowicz as the touchy feely MI6 agent, Aldo, while Miranda Hart fans will get a kick out of the comedienne playing, well, Miranda Hart, as she makes her Hollywood debut.
A little too long and unnecessarily over-reliant on the fks and cts, the laughs don’t come as easily or frequently as his previous hits. It neither carries the same sort of charm as Bridesmaids, or even the surprisingly enjoyable The Heat, but there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be had out of Feig’s latest feisty woman-centric comedic outing.