Film Review – Spy

Melissa_McCarthy-SPY-040115

Spy, the latest comedy from Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig, is something of a mixed bag. Whether or not you like it will largely depend on your tolerance of Melissa McCarthy and Feig’s frequently infuriating mixture of lowest common denominator humour with genuinely funny writing.

Frankly I’m somewhat torn with this film. On the one hand, Spy works reasonably well as a spoof, but only to a point. The first half is certainly better than the second, wherein slick and smug Bond-esque spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is murdered on a mission involving a stolen nuclear weapon. Desk bound CIA analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy), who had a painful crush on Fine, is sent undercover to recover said nuke. Hilarity ensues for about an hour or so, particularly in the form of her own back-up analyst Nancy (Miranda Hart), and ludicrously aggressive but inept rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham).

The best scenes all involve Statham, who is consistently laugh-out-loud funny, but the film is at least thirty minutes too long. Also the violence is gratuitously graphic, purely because it feels out of place. I am not a censorial person by any means, and absurdly graphic violence can be funny (think of the Black Knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail), but here it just comes off as tiresome.

At first, one feels the film has its heart in the right place, but there are definitely moments here that will offend some – the afore-mentioned graphic violence, very strong language and a running sexual harassment gag, to name just a few elements. As the film progresses, I found myself caring for the characters less and less, and just wanted the thing to be over with. Performances are all decent enough (Rose Byrne makes a laughably nasty villain), and the action scenes are certainly well done, but all things considered, Spy is just too inconsistent.

All that said, reviewing comedy is a notoriously difficult business, because humour is in the eye and ear of the beholder. I have no doubt Spy will prove a big hit with many. Just not me. Well, with the exception of the Jason Statham scenes.

Simon Dillon, June 2015.

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