Spy caper has lots of laughs
After stealing the show in a supporting role in 2011’s Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has struggled to establish her comedic talents in a series of mediocre entries to the genre (Identity Thief, Tammy).
Thankfully, espionage caper Spy is just what the doctor ordered for the 44-year-old with a memorable role as a desk-bound CIA analyst forced into the field to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that McCarthy re-teams with Bridesmaids writer-director Paul Feig for her return to form as he rewards his star with a loveable transformation from timid glorified secretary to terrorist-tackling heroine.
Taking a more slapstick-yet-mature route down the spy spoof path than this year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, Feig also proves once again that he’s a more than adequate hand at female-led hi-jinks.
The director also tips his bowler hat to the role Brits have played in establishing the genre by filling his cast with a host of faces familiar to these shores.
Like Colin Firth in Kingsman, Jude Law (Bradley Fine) finally gets to sample a taste of what life as 007 would be like and Jason Statham (Rick Ford) has a ball playing against type in a straight turn that pokes fun at his big-screen reputation.
Miranda Hart, on the other hand, does play to expectations in her biggest movie role to date — no, Magicians and The Infidel don’t count! – and Scouser Peter Serafinowicz’s over-the-top Italian chauffeur Aldo would be better suited to the Austin Powers universe.
McCarthy’s Bridesmaids co-star Rose Byrne (Rayna Boyanov) has been funnier, but her villainess is a decent verbal and physical foil for our heroine — and there’s a memorable cameo from a game 50 Cent.
Feig doesn’t scrimp on the action either and throws McCarthy into increasingly dangerous situations, albeit never losing sight of his film’s comedy stylings.
Whereas Jason Bourne would engage in hand-to-hand combat with knife-wielding evil agents, McCarthy’s Susan Cooper grabs whatever she can get her hands on (a frying pan) and isn’t afraid to commandeer a scooter to chase down the bad guys.
A neat running gag also sees her dressed as a cat-loving, frumpy tourist that’s a long way from the tuxedo-sporting Bond and there are no laser pens or dart-firing watches on offer to Susan in the field; instead she’s armed with items including pepper spray and stool softener.
Feig throws in a late twist that’s signposted so clearly it could be seen from space, but rounds things up in satisfying fashion nonetheless, concluding with a hilarious final scene.
A solo vehicle worthy of its engaging, riotous leading star, Spy is a true crowdpleaser that Bonds with its audience to create the biggest and best laughs of the year so far.
Point to prove McCarthy turns to espionage in Spy