Step aside Angelina Jolie and make room for Melissa McCarthy to strap on her spy boots, kick some ass and drop self-deprecating oneliners that win our hearts and make us smile. McCarthy is collaborating once more with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids and The Heat) to play the role of insecure, unassuming and overlooked CIA agent, Susan Cooper. As you may imagine, Cooper is quite the underdog and colleagues like Richard Ford (Jason Statham playing a parody of Jason Statham) give her nothing but grief and call her a fat lunch lady.
Cooper’s main duties are to support and aid surveillance for her partner, a dashingly debonair Bradley Fine (Jude Law), who strings along her affectionate feelings. Cooper and Fines’ mission is to locate a nuclear device in the hands of a disdainful Bulgarian arms dealer Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne). Things go from bad to worse when the identities of top CIA agents are revealed to the enemy. So, who better to infiltrate the terrorist cell and secure the nuke than an unknown desk jockey like Cooper, who goes undercover with less-than-glamorous aliases such as a crazy cat lady and a divorced housewife from rural Iowa. “I look like someone’s homophobic aunt,” Cooper states as her face cringes.
From the get go the gags are on full throttle and McCarthy delivers with highly technical combat skills. There is a charming, fumbling grace to her moves and she keeps getting into precarious situations that tickle our fancy. In some ways, Spy serves up a feminist hurrah, with McCarthy demonstrating that an actress can not only take the lead in an action comedy combo, but own it. Social commentary aside, Spy remains a solid film, but it would be better if the brakes weren’t slammed on halfway through and the jokes reduced to a melange of lowbrow humour, gratuitous ‘F’ bombs and a ridiculous caraciture of a salacious Italian spy.
It’s no Bridesmaids, but it’s much better than what McCarthy offered up in 2014’s Tammy. Regardless, McCarthy’s comical bouyancy is here to stay. Arthur Tam
Dir Paul Feig 120 mins, opens Thu May 21