Spy (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Paul Feig, US, 2015, 120 mins

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Bryne

Review by Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark

When they read the initial premise for Paul Feig’s soon-to-be-released Spy, I am sure many within the audiences gave a resounding sigh to yet another semi-funny, largely formulaic espionage take on Bond. Well, safe to say, Feig has done it and done it very well creating a hilarious twist on the already saturated genre.

As you may already be aware, Spy is the story of McCarthy’s unassuming analyst Susan Cooper who volunteers to infiltrate the world’s most deadly arms dealer in a bid to recompense for the death of the agency’s most prolific agent Bradley Fine (Law).

One thing remains very clear in the aftermath of watching Spy for the first time, which is how much is not given away by the film’s trailer. It seems that Feig took the genre and added to it a couple of comedy heavyweights and a tight screenplay to match, as the Feig-McCarthy partnership has finally found its feet. Spy boasts an all star cast which includes Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy as IT analyst/rookie agent Susan Cooper, the versatile Rose Bryne as the Russian arms dealer Rayna Boyanov, Brit beauty Jude Law as Triple-Agent Bradley Fine, Miranda Hart as Cooper’s best friend and fellow analyst Nancy, Bobby Cannavale as Boyanov’s partner in crime De Luca, Alison Janney as the high-ranking CIA director Elaine Cooper, Peter Serafinowicz as the illustrious Italian lothario Aldo and British action powerhouse Jason Statham as Agent Rick Ford, the endlessly angry and out-to-prove-a-point-and-save-the-day rogue CIA agent.

The most enduring thing about Feig’s Spy is that it is not afraid to have some fun. With a number of gags that include an argument about whether or not the Face-Off (Woo, 1997) machine actually exists, the unexpected use of the phrase ‘Thunder Cu*t’, to the ongoing hair/wig joke about both McCarthy’s and Byrne’s characters, or a rather unsavory comparison between McCarthy’s Cooper to very ugly old Russian women, complete with picture, the jokes may be simple, somewhat juvenile, but they are effective.

Perhaps the best part of Spy is the roles inhabited by Jason Statham and Peter Serafinowicz who most definitely steal the show. Statham’s intense Rick Ford manifests on screen as an arrogant, foolhardy and quintessentially angry Englishman character type who suffers more than his fair share of mishaps as he alone attempts to close the mission, singlehandedly transforming Spy into a 4-star worthy film. Similarly, Serafinowicz’s Aldo lecherous tendencies towards McCarthy’s Cooper really add to the overall lighthearted, but-close-to-the-bone feel of the film as his continual creepiness continues to entertain.

Spy jumps from Paris to Rome to Budapest, and McCarthy changes from Cooper to Carol Jenkins to Carry Morgan in what can only be described as a series of unfortunate personas. As expected the film revolves around the endless number of setbacks suffered by McCarthy’s Cooper in her first ‘track-and-report’ mission, such as her (literal) vomit-inducing first kill. Inevitably there will be comparisons to her similar role as the foul-mouthed, hot-tempered Det. Shannon Mullins in Feig’s 2013 The Heat, and perhaps this is the only instance in which you could argue Feig failed to expand upon an already-visited archetype.

Where Feig really shows off his directorial/screenplay-writing skills is in the pace of the film’s quick-fire gags bolstering the comedic tempo throughout, with the gags all containing their own singular comic value. But do not be fooled into believing that comedy is the only mainstay of Feig’s Spy. The film also features a visually impressive airplane sequence and an equally-skilled fight scene involving a death-defying frying pan and a Kingsman-esque slow-motion stabbing scene, all of which is achieved in 6-inch heels.

As Spy turns full circle its predictability becomes ever-present, but this does little to detract from what Feig has already achieved throughout the film. As once again Statham’s Ford continues his fumbling attempt to take ahold of the mission, Spy ticks off the Mission Impossible-esque hanging from an airplane from its list of go-to scenarios as the films beings to conclude.

The winning scene in Spy is perhaps the one in which Ford reels off a number of his amazing, if not wholly-unrealistic achievements from his extensive career as a rogue CIA agent; the film later on chooses to revisit the joke in a scene, which for now will be described as the ‘suit gag’ scene. Spy does not disappoint.

Note to viewers: watch out for the 50 Cent cameo, Kanye West joke and a 30 second sequence that features Statham with hair!