By Gary Murray
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne and Jude Law
Written and directed by Paul Feig
Running time 117 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
Melissa McCarthy has been trying to break into mainstream motion pictures over the last decade. Some of her starring roles have been in Tammy, Identity Thief and St. Vincent. All have had some modest success but none have hit it out of the cinematic ball park. With Spy, that should all change.
The story opens with a James Bond style of sparkle. We see super cool agent Bradley Fine go down into the lair of the bad guy. He is all attitude and flash. Just when it begins to feel like a typical Bond opening, Bradley sneezes due to all the dust in the air. In his earpiece is Susan (Melissa McCarthy) the eyes and ears of the situation. She directs him through a long battle with assorted henchmen and a daring escape in a boat. We soon find out that she’s an important element to Bradley’s success with the CIA.
Very soon, we find the meat of the story. Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) is the sole piece to the dead agents and a missing suitcase bomb. Since all the agents have been compromised, the CIA needs someone who has never been in the field to take on the assignment. Before one can say “Jane Bond”, Susan volunteers for the mission. This is much to the chagrin of agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham). He’s the resident hot head who always seems to be one step from being a rogue agent.
We then get the parodies of the Bond films, from the ‘Q’ Branch of outfitting agent Susan to the disguises that are definitely not Bond chic. The boss just wants Susan to observe and report, never to have any contact with any nefarious actions. Very soon, Susan has jetted off to Paris but in less that Bond style accommodations. Basically, she’s placed in a dump.
The trail of the stolen nuke leads to Rome and eventually to Budapest. Along the way, Susan gets to show her massive set of skills she has been wasting in a support position. Yes, she is the fish out of water but still has enough street sass and cunning to escape just about every dangerous situation she’s presented. Eventually she befriends the bad guys, convincing them she is their hired body guard.
Melissa McCarthy has finally found the right role with Spy. There is no down-trodden spirit like one will experience in both Tammy and St. Vincent. Here, we see a woman with ‘a certain set of skills’ and finally given a chance to use them. She is not a put upon woman but a woman who puts a whooping on those who try and stop her steadfast resolve. In short, she’s a solid role model.
Rose Byrne is one of best actresses who gets stuck in Mom roles. Here she gets to play a convincing villainess with the entire snarl one expects from the role. There is this great comic timing she shows throughout the film. It is by no means a one note performance. This is a giant departure for the actress and a welcome rejoinder from her normal work. She proves she can be more than just a pretty face.
Easily the biggest departure but still within his character is Jason Statham. He is a secret agent and super bad-ass but at the same time, he’s insane with over the tip dialogue and strange bits of action. It is so much fun to watch him play with his persona while still embracing it. One can tell that he’s having the time of his life with the role. One hopes that this departure into comedy is not a sole departure for the actor.
I always felt that Jude Law could do something different with the Bond role and with Bradley Fine he does just that. In much more of a Roger Moore fashion, he takes the spy role with a bit of tongue-in cheek attitude. Roger played the spy role with a bit of a wink and nod and Jude Law does it in the same direction.
Now, be prepared. This film deserves the R rating. It is full of adult situations and there is so much salty language, it would make a sailor blush. This is not a film for the kids or the easily offended. I do not see any easy way to make this film clean enough for broadcast standards. The adults should keep the kids at home before going in to see Spy.
That said Spy is a very adult feature that is a funny night at the cinema. It parodies the spy films much like Austin Powers or Matt Helm while lovingly paying homage to them. It is silly, crude fun.