The film opens with MI6 type agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) at a high end cocktail party in search of his target. He finds the mark Tihomir Boyanov (Raad Rawi) in the basement of the home and confronts him. The exchange begins as it would in any other spy movie then hits the first twist of the film that puts Fine in a bind needing to escape directed by his trusty Desk Analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) back in the vermin infested basement at Langley. Soon the mission is revealed: find the nuclear bomb that was in the possession of Boyanov and stop one of his two underbosses his daughter Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) or Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale) from selling it on the open market. The next twist: Boyanov's group knows that the C.I.A. are coming and have the names and faces of all of the key agents. They therefore need someone with knowledge of the case, classification and the training background to take on the mission. Susan Cooper steps forward to fill the role.
Director Paul Feig teams up with Melissa McCarthy on their third outing with Spy following box office success with Bridesmaids and The Heat. The film is written and directed by Feig who once again shows that comedy which is tougher to do than many expect is a genre that fits his sweet spot. The film has several laugh out loud moments plus even more scenes where the audience does not know if they should laugh, groan or be mildly offended. The script has several sleek hand to hand combat scenes, shootouts plus a new angle on the action film car chase. The sound department contributed greatly to the production which is key in a good action film.
Assistant C.I.A. Director Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) sends Cooper on the mission but has a habit of giving her loser undercover identities. A single mother of 4 in Paris, a Mary Kay sales wiz with 10 cats in Rome. All identities are accompanied by the obligatory bad wardrobe and even worse wig. Even the gadget scene finds Cooper assigned with inglorious weapons hidden in pills, ointments and wraps for bodily ailments. But once in the field Cooper's instincts are solid and she is effective despite being opposed by over the way over the top tough guy agent Rick Ford (Jason Stratham) who has gone rogue in an attempt to track down the bomb himself and expects Cooper to screw up the mission at every turn.
Melissa McCarthy shows off her full comedic range in the film. At the outset of the film she's an intelligent, quick thinking Desk Analyst deftly supporting Agent Bradley Fine. In her personal life she's meek, lacks confidence and has been taught for years by friends and family to blend into the background and to give up on her hopes and dreams. However as she gains her footing in the field she proves to be an asset to the agency highly competent in fighting, shooting, assertiveness, vehicle skills and hyper aggressive when the moment demands. In one sequence she actually makes the henchman of one of her targets cry following a verbal assault. Rose Byrne does her best and is almost successful in stealing the film as the daughter and underboss of the Boyanov organization. She taunts the C.I.A. acts like a royal central european princess and cannot remember anyones name within a second of learning it or of someone that has worked for her family for years. Jason Stratham is also strong as the testosterone driven Rick Ford. He has been in every dangerous situation at least twice and flourished every time. His macho act is on full display as he describes how he knows that he is immune to 27 different types of poison haven taken them all at once with no ill effect. Look for Miranda Hart, Chummy from Call the Midwife in a memorable supporting role as Nancy B. Artingstall Susan Cooper's best friend, confidant and Desk Analyst once she enters the field.
Paul Feig continues to show that he is the leading comedic director working today with Spy. The film is a solid mix of comedy and action. The entire cast is pleasing with many taking their first real shot at comedy trusting the Feig McCarthy combination. The story has the right amount of turns and surprises that would put it in line with any good spy tale. It's a film that will appeal to a wide audience and one that I can recommend.
*** 1/2 Out of Four.
Spy | Paul Feig | 2015 | U.S.A. | 120 Minutes.
Tags: Espionage, C.I.A., Alias, Nuclear Bomb, Paris, Rome, Budapest, Field Agent, C.I.A. Desk Analyst, 50 Cent.