IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 120 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Susan Cooper is an unassuming, plus-size, desk-bound CIA analyst guiding her partner Agent Bradley Fine on missions using a radio connected to his earpiece. After Bradley accidently kills his latest target in Bulgaria without finding the suitcase nuke bomb they are after, he’s sent to infiltrate the house of the target’s daughter Rayna Boyanov, but is shot dead by her, who, knowing Susan saw the killing, tells her that she knows the identities of the top CIA agents. Susan volunteers to become a field agent, and is accepted, something which annoys the CIA’s top agent Rick Ford who quits in dismay. She’s first sent to Paris to spy on Italian playboy Sergio De Luca…
Every now and again one wonders if the majority of movie critics saw a different movie to you, and for me it’s pretty much the case with Spy. The comedy espionage genre has been done to death, and the only new things Spy brings to the table are the type of person you would probably least expect to be an agent [but if you actually think about it are actually very likely indeed to be a spy because they are supposed to blend in and all that] being the main character, and almost constant swearing and insults. Sadly the former character is played by Melissa McCarthy, a so-called comedian who has so far failed to convince me that she’s either talented or funny, so she’s an often painfully irritating protagonist, a big problem when you’re supposed to enjoy the sight of her showing those who have either ignored or considerably under-estimated her that she most definitely has what it takes. As for the latter, well it seems to be all that writer and director Paul Feig can do in terms of comedy. He thinks that people uttering rude comments are primarily what comedy is about, that anything sex-related is funny, and probably thinks that having a couple of erect penises pop up in photographs is as hilarious as one can get, but he hardly ever bothers to write actual jokes. Sadly this is the case with much of the lazy rubbish that makes up much of today’s screen comedy.
Spy is not all bad actually. The storyline is decent, Feig is quite good at staging action [the highlight being a great pots and pans fight in a kitchen storeroom] and thankfully doesn’t feel the need to ruin it with excessive editing or shakycam, while Jason Statham, who has the lion’s share of what laughs there are in the film, is genuinely funny as he sends up his image, his character constantly telling of his incredible feats but proving to be pretty dumb otherwise, though even he is required to say the F word every couple of lines. Bobby Cannavale’s sex-mad Italian is amusing at first but quickly becomes annoying. Generally the more serious aspects of the film work better than the supposedly comedic ones, though like a lot of modern comedies it’s absurdly overlong. Considering that I still vividly recall the time I sat down to watch Feig’s Bridesmaids and barely even managed a smile let alone a laugh, Spy could have been a lot worse and at times it is entertaining. As a Ghostbusters fan though, I’m very worried that Feig is not just directing the reboot but co-writing the thing too. I’ve so far seen little evidence that he’s the man for that job.