Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Movie Review: Spy (2015)

Spy is a brilliant takedown of the secret agent genre, anchored by Melissa McCarthy's charismatic performance, a bevy of hilarious supporting characters, a pimp soundtrack, and brutal fight scenes (!). This movie has it all.

McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA agent who's never been out in the field. Because of plot, of course involving the sale of a nuclear device, she volunteers to go on an assignment. Hijinks ensue!

I shan't spoil anything much, but if you've seen the trailers, you know that Jude Law and Jason Statham play versions of the secret agent trope -- one impossibly handsome and suave, the other gritty and rage-y. Susan's dynamic with both is a delight to watch. The same is true for her interactions with her friend Nancy, played by Brit Miranda Hart (see her in this French and Saunders Mamma Mia parody). And speaking of Brits, Rose Byrne once again plays McCarthy's nemesis, as the impeccably coiffed villain Rayna Boyanov. "Thank god your hair broke your fall!" Susan gasps at her at one point.

Spy's choreography is excellent -- both competent and winkingly over-the-top. The physical comedy bits got the loudest laughs, but the fight scenes were incredibly violent, with all the bone-crunching action typical of actual spy fare, with some slo-mo thrown in for good measure. McCarthy's kitchen battle is a damn good one--it had us wincing at the blows and laughing at the expert application of frying pans. And of course, what action movie is complete without explosions, at least one chase scene, or a telegraphed twist? Those show up in this movie, too.

The running gags work, for the most part, except for scenes early on about vermin in the CIA basement. Kinda lame. The best gags were Statham's character's descriptions of his exploits, Rayna's insults, and the secret identities created for Susan (and her reactions to them). If you stay through the credits, though, you'll see a change. And there's an Easter Egg that suggests that this film was as fun to make as it was to watch.

TL;DR: A hilarious action-adventure with a talented lead. 

This post brought to you by June thunderstorms! 

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