A licence to thrill
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