Spy (2015)

PAUL FEIG

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 2015, , .  Screenplay by Paul Feig.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Paul Feig, , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  Golden Globe Awards 2015.

Handsome C.I.A. agent  works the field looking gorgeous in a tux, his ability to move smoothly through enemy territory and always know where bad guys are hiding possible thanks to the lonely, frumpy desk agent (Melissa McCarthy) who watches his every move on her computer monitors.  McCarthy has always dreamed of getting into the action herself, possessing a knack for violent self-defense and canny assessments of enemy territory but held back by issues of self-esteem.  When a nuclear bomb is determined to be in the hands of a Bulgarian socialite () who knows the names and faces of everyone on McCarthy’s team, she jumps at the chance to go overseas and pursue the case herself, held back only by a bitter fellow agent (, hilariously taking a jab at his own action-man image) who doesn’t believe she can do the job.  Bond films are spoofed as McCarthy dons a number of dowdy disguises (“I look like someone’s homophobic aunt!”) and glamorous European locations are traversed in search of bad guys, the violence excessively graphic and the cursing plentiful every time someone fires up the star’s temper and inspires one of her rants.  Unlike The Heat, however, director Paul Feig keeps McCarthy under necessary control, only allowing her epic verbiage to unleash itself when necessary while the rest of the time pushing the story forward.  It’s great that the star of an action movie an overweight woman with boy problems, though it’s better that the film doesn’t constantly pat itself on the back for breaking from type.  That said, it could use a tad more rebellion: the odd headshake at sexist jokes of yore is not enough to say that the movie is entering a new era, so if you’re doing a Howard Hawks gender reversal, why not go all the way and exploit Statham for the sex object that he is?  Thankfully, Feig cobbles together a sturdy plot and provides plenty of genuine laughs, making for satisfaction on all counts.

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