Wednesday, June 03, 2015

“Spy”– Movie Review

This week, I attended a New York Times Film Club screening of “Spy”, a new comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and written and directed by Paul Feig.
When an administrative worker is suddenly called upon to become a spy to prevent a dangerous weapon from falling into the wrong hands, can she overcome her mild mannered nature in order to save the world?
At the age of 40, Susan (McCarthy) is a little disappointed in her life thus far.  After spending the past decade working at a desk job for the Central Intelligence Agency, she’s neglected her personal life and now finds herself alone and lonely; her only hope at romance is the crush she has on Bradley (Jude Law), one of the star agents she assists – alas, her love is unrequited.  Susan’s worst fears are eventually realized:  when guiding Bradley through a mission, he is ambushed by Rayna (Rose Byrne) – a treacherous woman out to make a fortune by dealing dangerous weapons to evil-doers.  Aware of who Bradley is and why he’s after her, Rayna kills him. 
Learning that Rayna already knows who all of their top agents are, Susan’s boss Elaine (Allison Janney), realizes that she can’t send any of them after Rayna.  Instead, she must pluck someone from obscurity who will go undetected in the mission -- that’s when she decides on picking Susan, even though she lacks experience doing field work. Despite being a bit hesitant as she’s admittedly rusty, Susan is motivated to seek revenge for Bradley’s death.  Elaine reminds Susan that she is not being sent to directly engage Rayna; for her, it’s merely a tracking mission where she needs only to observe and report so other, more experienced agents can follow-up as necessary. 
Since Susan must go undercover, she is sent overseas disguised and assuming a fake identity.  However, Rick (Jason Statham), an agent who went rogue after being refused the opportunity to go after Rayna himself, follows Susan abroad; he resents that Susan has been awarded the mission because he feels she’s an inferior agent -- as a result, Rick desperately tries to show her up and crack the case all by himself.  In the meantime, however, Rayna is busy trying to sell the bomb to De Luca (Bobby Cannavale), an international arms dealer  who plans to re-sell it at a substantially higher price to a terrorist.  Can Susan somehow manage to disrupt the plan herself or will the world be endangered once the bomb is sold?
Let’s just get this out of the way upfront:  when it comes to movie and television comediennes, Melissa McCarthy is an out-and-out rock star with few contemporaries who can compete at her level -- including and especially when it comes to physical comedy.  Fans of hers will be delighted to learn that all of her best talents are on full display in “Spy”, a comedic tour de force that once again teams her with Paul Feig (who previously worked with her on “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat”).  Feig’s script provides abundant jokes that just about always seem to hit the bullseye – and even a number of the action scenes are quite amusing as well.
“Spy” generously supplies wall-to-wall laughs; it is hard to imagine a comedy being released this summer that will be funnier.  One of the more pleasant surprises, however, is the performance by Statham, hilarious as a disturbingly intense agent who appears to have gone over the edge.  Additionally, Byrne’s character of Rayna is astonishingly funny; she’s foul-mouthed, sarcastic, insulting and ill-tempered -- her Rayna hits all of the right notes for this James Bond send-up.  Miranda Hart is also quite good as Susan’s colleague, Nancy; she adds the perfect amount of goofy sidekick that complements Susan. 
Those looking to enjoy outtakes during the end credits of “Spy” will be greatly disappointed; there is one shot tacked on from the last scene in the movie, but that’s about all you’ll find.  One hopeful (if unsurprising) note:  the movie ended in a way that definitely suggests a sequel will be in the offing.  With high expectations for this film to be a deserved smash hit, McCarthy fans may have “Spy 2” to look forward to in the not-too-distant future.  When this motion picture opens, be sure to head out to the theater immediately -- this is definitely not one you want to wait to reach cable TV or Netflix. 
Spy (2015) on IMDb

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