We’ve already had one espionage spoof this year in the form of Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman, that threw it back to the early James Bond movies of Roger Moore and Sean Connery. That film’s most compelling elements turned out to be the close reality and terror of its villain (Samuel L. Jackson)’s plans for world domination via. technology. The second comes in the form of Spy, an out-and-out action comedy that marks a change of pace for comedy juggernaut Paul Feig, despite it having the casting trappings of his previous efforts Bridesmaids and The Heat.
Despite its first half-hour revolving around how unlikely a choice Melissa McCarthy’s character, which is ess (a food-loving CIA analyst who sits behind a desk while a suit-clad Jude Law does all the field work) is for the titular role, it quickly moves out of said tired territory into becoming a very enjoyable film once McCarthy gets to show off her chops in the field. And show them off she does, navigating action and comedy scenes with equal skill. In this globetrotting comedy of stopping a Russian arms dealer (Rose Byrne), a villain lifted straight from spy movies of days long gone, Feig thankfully tones down elements of his past work, namely the gross-out humour that tends to bloat runtimes and audience patience. There’s still plenty of instances where characters hurl graphic obscenities at each other and the film arguably runs a half-hour too long, but thankfully Feig removes the visual element this film, which only serves to make it a more enjoyable ride. It’s replaced with spoofing of classic tropes, from Eastern European villains and Jason Statham’s entire action career, where Rose Byrne and Statham himself cement themselves as some of the best comedic talents today, along with smaller roles from Allison Janney and Miranda Hart. The result is a gloriously screwball and somewhat old-fashioned comedy, big on budget and laughs, and is Feig’s smartest film yet.