Reuniting with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy is at her hilarious best in the infectiously entertaining action comedy Spy, a rib-tickling espionage spoof that gives a confident female-centred spin to the traditionally ultra-masculine spy movie genre.
A dumpy CIA analyst who becomes an unlikely field agent, McCarthy’s Susan Cooper gets into a series of slapstick comic scrapes as she hops from the US to Paris to Rome to Budapest in pursuit of a stolen nuclear bomb, reluctantly adopting a string of frumpy undercover identities en route. Yet she is never made ridiculous. Indeed, the story gives equal weight to her emotional journey, as she rises to the mission’s challenges, gains confidence and proves her worth to those around her.
The film’s good-humoured generosity extends to the other characters as well, including Jude Law’s dashing, debonair, 007-type spy, Jason Statham’s absurdly overconfident hard man and even Rose Bryne’s impossibly haughty arms-dealing villain. Allison Janney delivers a drily deadpan turn as a CIA spymaster and Miranda Hart is genially bumbling as the fellow desk jockey who joins Susan in the field. But this is McCarthy’s show and Spy finds her on peerless form.
Certificate 15. Runtime 115 mins. Director Paul Feig.
Spy is available on Blu-ray & DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
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.
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