Spy (2015)

A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the
world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster.

Directed by Paul Feig
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Melissa Hart, Jude Law, Alison Janney, Rose Byrne

No, not another version of Johnny English. I half expected as much when I heard that this was a ‘spy comedy’. I wasn’t sure just how well the ‘Spy’ element would hold up, given funny woman de jour Melissa McCarthy was at the helm. I didn’t doubt it would make me laugh (which it did, several times) but as for the rest of it, well, it all sounded a bit tiresome. And what’s that you say? Two hours long? Hmm, my heart sank a little, and by this stage, I hadn’t even sat down yet.

And it didn’t start too auspiciously, with Jude Law doing his worst James Bond impression. Yes, we know it was a caricature, but hasn’t he seen Colin Firth in Kingsman? Proof positive that you can take the piss out of a genre, but still have style whilst doing it. Back at HQ, Susan (McCarthy) is directing Jude Law’s movements through his earpiece, plus a second pair of eyes, if you like. Despite being an agent herself, she has (up until this point, at least) never been out into the field. Somehow, she ended up with a desk job, supporting those on the front line, risking it all for the FBI.

When Law’s character, Bradley Fine is killed, it becomes clear that all of the field agents are at risk, including Jason Statham’s Rick Ford, a parody hybrid of all of the characters he has played in his career so far. Bless Statham for showing that he does, if nothing else, own a sense of humour and is not afraid to humbly laugh at himself.

So, with no-one else to help, it falls to Susan (a trained agent, don’t forget) to join the fray, to track and report. So FBI Director, the always brilliant and delightfully poker-faced Alison Janney, gives her a new identity and sends her packing. 

Now, the plot and the synopsis suggests the pursuit of an arms dealer and if we’re honest, this thread is really thin. The film is more interested in watching as Susan goes from helpless and hapless to becoming actually quite handy and dangerous in her own right (albeit with bags of luck thrown in). Granted, Rose Byrne does very well as the object of Susan’s investigations, staying straight-faced when confronted by the alleged bumbling single Mom with questionable hair.

Miranda Hart too, supports very ably, well, playing herself, the ditzy, over-excitable co-worker who too gets the opportunity to flex her as yet unused agenting skills. As a cast goes, this is pretty comprehensive and not to be sniffed at. Surprisingly then, perhaps this isn’t as funny as it should have been, however, looking at the talent on screen.

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