A li­cence to thrill

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Direc­tor: Paul Feig ( Brides­maids) Star­ring: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Ja­son Statham, Mi­randa Hart, Alison Jan­ney

Ver­dict: Against all odds, she’s Su­san for a bruisin’

AN un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally gen­er­ous and warm dis­play in a sup­port­ing role op­po­site Bill Mur­ray in the art­house hit St Vin­cent was a no­table re­ver­sal of form for Amer­i­can comic ac­tor Melissa McCarthy.

While Spy is not a great com­edy by any stretch, it does prove its star is con­tin­u­ing her move in the right di­rec­tion.

McCarthy plays Su­san Cooper, a dowdy CIA desk clerk whose job mostly en­tails pro­vid­ing re­mote au­dio- vis­ual back- up to star agent Bradley Fine ( Jude Law).

Though there is re­ally noth­ing sub­stan­tial to McCarthy and Law’s scenes to­gether in Spy’s open­ing act – they are ba­si­cally car­ry­ing on mun­dane con­ver­sa­tions while he does stuff that 007 would think twice about – the chem­istry they share is pal­pa­ble.

So it is some­thing of a shame when grind­ing plot me­chan­ics kick in to cut this dou­ble- act short.

Fine has gone MIA in the field, and it is feared he may have per­ished at the beau­ti­fully man­i­cured hands of Bul­gar­ian bad- chick Rayna Boy­anov ( Rose Byrne).

This per­fumed psy­chopath is in the mar­ket to buy some dirty nukes, and needs to be stopped. How­ever, it is be­lieved she has ID pho­tos of ev­ery CIA agent on ac­tive duty.

Some­one with no track record what­so­ever needs to be put on Rayanov’s tail as she read­ies to make her move in Europe. The only el­i­gi­ble some­one? Su­san Cooper.

An un­der- rated ( and wor­ry­ingly fear­less) phys­i­cal comic, McCarthy mines a rich seam of ma­te­rial as Su­san comes to grips with the enor­mity of her first as­sign­ment as an agent.

As Spy is first and fore­most, an ac­tion- ca­per com­edy, the com­bat, gun­play, stunts and ex­plo­sions must keep com­ing steadily.

McCarthy is never lost as an an­chor­ing pres­ence amid all this may­hem, a sign which un­doubt­edly au­gurs well for her prom­i­nent role in next year’s all- fe­male Ghost­busters re­boot.

Very amus­ing sup­port work from ( of all peo­ple!) vet­eran B- movie hard­nut Ja­son Statham as Richard Ford, the CIA’s most in­de­struc­tible agent, who also keeps the movie on the right side of funny.

How­ever, it must be said that Spy suf­fers from one flaw which could prove fa­tal to some sec­tors of its tar­get au­di­ence.

To put it mildly, at a run­ning time of al­most two hours, the movie is one of the most poorly- paced Hol­ly­wood come­dies of re­cent years.

The blame is par­tially due to direc­tor Paul Feig’s love of ac­tors’ im­pro­vi­sa­tion ( some set- ups take an eter­nity to hit a punch­line). The rest can sim­ply be at­trib­uted to an over- padded script ( Byrne’s char­ac­ter gets too much busi­ness for too lit­tle re­turn).

Now show­ing Vil­lage Cine­mas

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