Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy team up once again after their work together on ‘The Heat‘ & ‘Bridesmaids‘ to bring us the action comedy film ‘Spy‘. The film follows Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), a CIA analyst confined to a desk who supports field agents such as Bradley Fine (Jude Law) through surveillance and communications. After one mission goes awry, which leads to a dead agent and the identities of the others exposed, Cooper volunteers to go into the field to get the job done. With critics all around her, none more notable than fellow agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) the pressure is on for Cooper to find a missing nuclear weapon and save the day.
There is a notable lack of female driven comedies in film so it is refreshing to see that the success of McCarthy’s previous films, ‘Tammy‘ not included, is bringing about a change of direction. Without the success of her previous films I doubt we would have seen something like ‘Hot Pursuit‘ released. As refreshing as this change is ‘Spy‘ did not turn out to be the exciting comedy I expected it to be. Though it hits many of the right notes throughout through visual gags and verbal tirades, the bits in between are generic spy comedy fare that falls into boring formula. The overall story of Susan Cooper is so painfully predictable that it saps any excitement or interest out of her story arc because we’ve seen it hundreds of times before. It doesn’t help the running length of the film is just about two hours long, and when you are primarily relying on one comedic lead to provide the comedy, things can get repetitive and fast.
What deserves credit in the film is the effectiveness of McCarthy’s character, unlike notable spy comedy characters such as Johnny English or Austin Powers, she has plenty skill and doesn’t get by on charm or luck. Susan Cooper is a bona fide CIA agent with all sorts of tools that match or better her fellow agents. Another bright spot in the film is the character of Rick Ford, cast excellently as Jason Statham. Ford is a brash, single minded character who believes he, and only he, can get the job done. In fact the character can be seen as an analogy for all the naysayers and keyboard warriors out there that have derided the upcoming all female Ghostbusters film, especially in his constant doubting an put downs over Cooper. Rose Byrne & Peter Serafinowicz also provide good supporting characters that have their moments throughout, especially Serafinowicz as a seedy Italian agent helping the operation out.
However what I really noticed throughout the film, and I’m no prude, was the utterly excessive and unnecessary amount of bad language being used. Some of it worked and got a laugh but then other times it felt forced and as a result just not funny. Just saying f*** for the sake of saying it just isn’t funny, and it does this on too many occasions.
Though Melissa McCarthy is really good throughout, I am very concerned that should she continue on the trajectory that she is, using the same comedy that we have now seen in her past few films, that her comedy is going to get too repetitive. There are a instances throughout ‘Spy‘ that appear to be trademark McCarthy and just because you have success with it once, does not mean you should keep revisiting it again and again. Just look at where Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler are now…
Come the end of the film I had chuckled a few times and had a few laughs but that was it. If this film had anybody else in the lead I doubt it would have worked. The cast are the saviours of ‘Spy‘ with decent chemistry and good, but expected performances. It is just unfortunate that the story was nowhere near as adventurous as the agents in the film are. Fans of Melissa McCarthy and her brand of comedy are in for a treat with ‘Spy‘ but those expecting anything more will be left dissatisfied.