Spy opens the way you would expect from most espionage films to begin. A secret agent, Bradley Fine (Jude Law), infiltrates a high end cocktail party in search of his target, Tihomir Boyanov (Raad Rawi). Fine gets himself in a bind and relies on his trusty desk analyst, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), back in the vermin infested basement at Langley, to provide him with an escape route. However, this is where the film veers off the familiar path. It is soon revealed that Boyanov is in possession of a nuclear bomb, which he is planning to sell on the open market.
Considering that Boyanov has a file exposing the identities of many key C.I.A. agents, the assistant director Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) has no alternative but to find a relatively unknown entity to figure out whether Boyanov’s daughter Rayna (Rose Byrne) or his right-hand man, Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale), can lead them to the bomb. Seeing the need for someone with knowledge of the case and C.I.A. training, Cooper steps forward to valiantly fill the role.
Following the box office success of Bridesmaids and The Heat, director Paul Feig re-teams with Melissa McCarthy for their third comedic outing. Feig once again shows he knows how to hit the comedy sweet spot. Spy has several laugh-out-loud moments and a few that will no doubt mildly offended some audience members. The film also features several sleek hand-to-hand combat scenes, shootouts, and a refreshingly new take on the standard action film car chase. The strong work by the sound department greatly contributes to the effectiveness of the action scenes.
A good portion of the comedy stems from the poor undercover identities that Cooper is assigned. In Paris she is a single mother of 4, in Rome she is a Mary Kay sales wiz with 10 cats, etc. All identities are accompanied by the obligatory bad wardrobe and horrendously worse wig. Despite the unfortunate ensembles, and frequently being opposed by rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham), Cooper’s instincts are solid in the field. Melissa McCarthy’s portrays Cooper as an intelligent and quick thinking woman. Sure Cooper may be a meek individual in her personal life, but she proves to be a highly competent asset to the agency in all aspects of the spy game.
The rest of the cast does an admirable job rallying around McCarthy’s great performance. Rose Byrne almost steals the film with her turn as Boyanov’s daughter. She acts like a spoiled princess who cannot even take the time learn the names of those who have been in her family’s organization for years. Jason Statham is also strong as the testosterone driven Rick Ford. His macho act is a nice contrast to McCarthy’s more earnest and effective Cooper. Look for Miranda Hart, Chummy from Call the Midwife, to pop up in in a memorable supporting role as Nancy B. Artingstall, Cooper’s best friend, confidant and desk analyst once she enters the field.
Paul Feig continues to show that he is one of the leading comedic directors working today. Spy offers a solid mix of comedy and action. The entire cast is pleasing and the story has the right amount of turns and surprises to stand up against other good spy tales. Spy will appeal to a wide audience and is a film that I can recommend.