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Sunday 23 April 2017
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler on The Jewel Radio Network

Spy – Movie Review by Anne Brodie

Written and directed by Paul Feig
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Miranda Hart, Jude Law, Jason Statham

Rating: 3.5 / 5

If Melissa McCarthy isn’t the best thing to hit comedy since Ellen, then I’m an Oscar winning composer. McCarthy’s rise through the ranks has been quick and steady thanks her likeability, universality and comic genius.  Her struggles are our struggles. But I think she’s still waiting for that follow up to the outrageous triumph that was Bridesmaids.

Spy is a great start giving her full reign over an estimable cast including Jude Law, Jason Statham, Bobby Cannavale and the amazingly versatile and brilliant Rose Byrne.  McCarthy goes for broke, and every expression, sex joke, fight sequence, stunt and reflective moment confirms her comic queenliness. 

McCarthy is CIA “basement” spy Susan Cooper, assigned to man the super-agent – and milquetoast – Bradley Fine’s (Law) earpiece. He’s thousands of miles away fighting evil Eastern Europeans guided by her oversight from an impressive network of CCTV that seem to be everywhere. She lets him know when and where the thugs are as they come for him and talks him through his daily spy duties.

Cooper’s extremely focused, despite a plaque of bats, rats and mice chewing on her clothes in the CIA basement, and able to think strategically and pre-emptively for him.  She has the gift but she’s never been in the field.  When Fine is killed, she offers herself up as an invisible spy (subservient and never seen) to retrieve a nuclear bomb hidden by a Hungarian arms dealer.

Jason Statham, a spy on the edge wants to fill in for Fine goes a tad berserk when Cooper gets the gig.  He’s a hard man, yes, but Statham is also pretty funny. His pathologically angry, irritable spy stretches our patience so thin it’s hilarious. Angry comedy. 

McCarthy and an impressive array of disguises travel Europe through a manic gauntlet of risks and dangers utilising every conceivable vehicle and ruse. Loyalties are tested, dual identities are revealed, but most of the time is spent fighting and shooting and swearing.  I don’t know why it is but when McCarthy gets on a runaway train of swears she is really funny.

Cooper soon encounters her nemesis and target Rayna (Byrne) and icy statuesque noodle-armed daughter of the recently murdered man with the bomb.  Byrne is absolutely sensational as entitled Eurotrash as quick with a gun as she is with an insult.  Her hair is magnificent swooping in and around the air, a regal character in and of itself.

The plotting is messy and pulls everything in at once, but that’s part of the pleasure, there is nothing to take too seriously in this showcase of terrific comic acting. Don’t get me started on how terrific are British comedienne Miranda Hart as Cooper’s best bud and British actor Peter Serafinowicz as oily Aldo (like the American shoe chain). But trust me.

It’s a good time with cross generational appeal. If you can take the cute swears.