In Review: Spy

by Daniel Goodwin on 04/06/2015


Spy and comedy genres have always mixed well over the years. The stiff upper lip studiousness of early 007 outings proved ripe for ridicule with the popular Austin Powers and questionable Johnny English franchises and Matthew Vaughn’s recent Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) provided a slightly diverse take. With various lampooners spoofing the trends cemented by the Bond franchise, Paul Feig’s Spy, fronted by flourishing comedy favourite Melissa McCarthy, veers through the tent-poles into fresher territory yet stumbles slightly in its generic execution.

Melissa McCarthy plays CIA analyst Susan Cooper and voice in the ear of Jude Law’s debonair agent Bradley Fine, who she is secretly besotted with. Due to an unexpected mission glitch, Susan is drafted onto the field to track down an arms dealer and recover a nuclear weapon. With bumbling work buddy Nancy (Miranda Hart) by her side, stern superiors looming over her shoulder and lumbering rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) constantly throwing spanners in the works, Susan is swept into a whirlwind of calamities while attempting to save the world.

Despite an action loaded opening, Bond-like credit sequence and gadgetry gags, Spy avoids emulating other established franchises yet its fresh ideas are not realised with the panache required to make them exemplary. While the central concept is intriguing and the plot-mapping punchy and fun, Spy remains somewhat predictable. There is little depth beyond the saccharine surface and the humour is rather inane yet Spy is highly entertaining due to a bright, affable nature and extremely fast pace.

Paul Feig’s Spy is banal, frivolous and loaded with f-bombs, but is still enormous fun. There is little narrative ingenuity but Spy unravels at break-neck speed with colourful settings and thumping action. Supporting performances are disappointingly meagre and the dialogue slightly flimsy. Statham wobbles, even though he is only doing a slight variation on his usual shtick, but McCarthy is fantastic, along with Peter Serafinowicz as slimy agent Aldo. Even though the humour doesn’t always work, the film remains suitably debauched, pleasing and zany entertainment. Despite its flaws, Spy is action-loaded eye candy with a top-notch central performance and its pithy, adventurous and clichéd plot makes for solid barnstorming fun.

Daniel has awarded Spy three Torches of Truth 


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