Barely Lethal | DVD review - Hailee Steinfeld's teen spy finds high school far more perilous than espionage

Barely Lethal Dove Cameron Hailee Steinfeld.jpg
(Image credit: Quantrell D. Colbert)

Teenage assassin Hailee Steinfeld discovers that the treacherous world of espionage has nothing on the perils of high school in breezy Kick-Ass-meets-Mean-Girls action comedy Barely Lethal.

Trained from infancy at a top-secret government facility, Steinfeld's junior spy yearns for a normal adolescence and reinvents herself as a Canadian exchange student after faking her own death in the middle of a mission. Cue larky fish-out-of-water comedy as the clueless teen grapples with a crush on the school heartthrob (Toby Sebastian), tries to bond with her snarky teenage host (Dove Cameron) and accidentally blows her cover when an embarrassing video goes viral.

It's lightweight stuff, certainly, but pulled off with infectious good humour. Samuel L Jackson adds to the fun with some shouty martinet shtick, as do Jessica Alba's sneering arms dealer and Sophie (Game of Thrones) Turner's ruthless rival agent.

Certificate 12. Runtime 98 mins. Director Kyle Newman.

Barely Lethal is available from Singature Entertainment on EST & VOD from 23 October and on DVD & Blu-ray from 26 October.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.