CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has been working a desk job her entire career. She is the voice in the ear of debonair secret agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), watching over him from drones and satellites, keeping him safe, developing a crush.
When Agent Fine is murdered by a Bulgarian arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who knows the identity of all the CIA’s top agents, Cooper is reluctantly sent in to complete Fine’s mission, stopping the sale of a nuclear bomb. Along the way she’ll have some help from rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham).
We say, “Spy starts out strong and then turns into The Heat without Sandra Bullock.”
TAYLOR: I had high hopes for Spy. It looked in the trailers like it was going to feature McCarthy as a likeable, soft-spoken cat-lady type, thrown into a world of danger and intrigue. But as is explained in the film, her character, Cooper, has a dark side that comes out in times of stress. Such is it that she becomes a foul-mouthed slinger of insults and is completely adept at hand-to-hand combat.
Once Cooper is in the swing of things, Spy stops being a spoof of James Bond and becomes simply another Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) movie with its improvisational crudity. An elderly couple walked out.
HOWE: It did feel like a James Bond movie, complete with the musical opening with colourful graphics. There was also a little twist of Johnny English thrown in.
Where in the past I have complained about the amount of swearing in a McCarthy movie, this time I felt all the words were a necessity and in the right places. It may have to do with the fact the movie has a couple of Brits in it, Law and Statham. When they swear, it comes across as natural, whereas, in The Heat Bullock’s cursing seems forced.
TAYLOR: Brits drop verbal bombs on daytime TV, true, but Law used an American accent. I’m not against cursing per se, but this particular dialogue, I presume, is meant to be funny and fails, crudely or otherwise.
It’s not that the film is made poorly, and it certainly made other people in the audience laugh aloud, senses of humour are subjective. I’ve just already seen this movie a couple of times recently. But that’s the way Hollywood works. You spray some comedy up on the screen and make more of whatever sticks.
HOWE: I will admit I am not a huge fan of McCarthy, but I can say this is the most entertaining role/movie I have seen her in. The jokes are funny, she doesn’t come across as overbearing and she’s not as annoying as usual.
The supporting cast is outstanding, most notably her spy sidekick Nancy (Miranda Hart), who made me chuckle whenever she said or did anything. For once and I can’t believe I am saying this about a McCarthy movie, I hope they make a sequel. Wow.
– Howe gives Spy 3.5 frying pans out of 5.
– Taylor gives it 2.5 prying bars out of 5.
Peter Howe and Brian Taylor review the latest films for The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.