Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham hilarious in 2015's second best espionage action comedy to date
After countless of James Bond-inspired spy parodies finally comes one that features a female protagonist. Not only that, she's also obese. Many must have thought, big deal -- fat chick as the hero doesn't change the fact that there's been way too many spy comedies already but hey, the recently released Kingmans: The Secret Service was surprisingly good without being slapstick, and to be fair, the only absolutely bad espionage spoof that I've seen within these two decades was the Johnny English films (sorry, Mr. Bean). With that being said, Spy is another release of the genre that surprisingly doesn't suck.
One of the major concerns I had for this film was Melissa McCarthy. I'm sick of her playing the same kind of vulgarly fat-bully roles over and over again in practically every movie she starred in after her breakthrough from Bridesmaid (2011), like The Heat (2013), Identity Thief (2013) and Tammy (2014). Here, reunited with writer-director Paul Feig (The Heat, Bridesmaid), McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA agent who's never been out in the field and always behind the desk being the third eye and brains of her partner, Bradley Fine (Jude Law), whom she has a secret crush on. Susan is an unrespected small fry who's actually intelligent and combat-capable with spontaneous courage and feistiness, and McCarthy's performance is spot on here. More importantly, she's not annoying for the first time in many movies.
After Bradley has gone down and the identities of all field agents have been compromised and exposed by the target arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), Susan steps up to go undercover in a track and report operation but although she's always given some very uncool fake identities (like disguising as an old lady who owns many cats), she never intends to only do what she's told. Rick Ford (Jason Statham), who's one of the compromised field agents, doesn't take her seriously and tends to appear during her missions to take matters into his own hands when his incompetence actually makes every situation more difficult. Together with the help of a flirtatious Italian agent (Peter Serafinowicz) and her fellow desk-bound colleague-friend Nancy (Miranda Hart), Susan must infiltrate and stop Rayna from trading a nuclear weapon to the terrorists.
Judging from the rather unappealing trailers or the beginning of the film, it may seem like it's going to be one of those lame comedies that all the amusement are going to come from the brutal slapstick and dumbness of the main character, which we've already seen enough from films of the same genre like Austin Powers (1997 - 2002), Spy Hard (1996), Get Smart (2008) and Johnny English (2003 - 2011), but it turns more than that, with a mix of that, witty dialogues and some real action, although it's obvious in some sequences that it's not McCarthy that's doing the stunts and fighting. Free from the boundaries of PG13 rating, some of these scenes are quite violent as well, which is much needed for additional spice and flavour to the genre today.
Paul Feig managed to make it silly enough without being overly nonsensical and some jokes are so stupid that I just can't help but to be tickled. Jason Statham (Fast & Furious 7, The Expendables films) gets to talk a lot and it's absolutely hilarious as it's almost like a parody of his tiresome roles in his series of redundant action flicks. The gorgeous Rose Byrne (Insidious: Chapter 2), despite being a villain, provides eye candy and has a good neck-to-neck comedic chemistry with McCarthy. Rapper 50 Cent's brief cameos as himself isn't that funny but it does add to the broadness of this comedy.
It's quite an unpredictable ride in the first and second act but resorts to the genre cliches and twists towards to the end. There are flaws and things that don't make sense but this is a comedy and a parody so we're not supposed to take it seriously. However, there is one thing that feels more logical than the typical James Bond-like spy films -- real spies should go under the radar by looking less suspicious with the disguises and identities that Susan has instead of looking all intelligent and glamorous dressed up in suits with red flags written all over.
Malaysia censorship: For the press screening, only middle fingers were censored with mosaic while the vulgarities and violence were left untouched. However, the press screening was 2 weeks before its official release so I'm not sure if it's the final cut that would be released to the public.
Second opinion: My girlfriend enjoyed it as well, saying that it's funny and fun to watch while agreeing that Melissa McCarthy isn't annoying this time.
Verdict: Unexpectedly funnier than it should be with Melissa McCarthy finally being amusing instead of annoying.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Running Time: 116 mins
Director-writer: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, 50 Cent
Malaysia Release Date: 21 May 2015
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: Chernin Entertainment, Feigco Entertainment
Follow me: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+