Spy is an unusual treat. It’s an unusually laugh-out-loud, mainstream appealing, Hollywood comedy, despite appearing from the very tired genre of the spy parody. Not being hugely familiar with Melissa McCarthy’s repertoire, she puts in a commanding performance as a desk bound CIA analyst who goes into the open field. It helps that her character possesses a closeted set of skills which finally see daylight. Having a woman instigate much of the violence is refreshing for an action film.
Even as someone not keen on Bridesmaids, here director Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy really blossom with their zany sense of humour. She actually has to play a remarkably straight role, with Jason Statham often scene stealing as a big mouthed agent, gloriously self deprecating, showing exactly why The Stathe is such a charismatic screen presence. Every line he gives is genuinely hilarious and his character alone passes the ‘six laugh test’.
There’s so much silliness to enjoy, not least a recurring joke about the CIA’s pest infested headquarters which epitomises the film’s delight in being a little bit strange, throwing weird things out there. There’s another great running gag centering around McCarthy’s lack of 007-style gadgets, allowing her comic timing to shine through brilliantly. With plenty of action and violence, Spy manages to tick big studio boxes without being irreverent, instead relying on strong, unexpected comedic performances to make it constantly funny and entertaining.
Review by David Rank
Spy is out now in the UK and US. Rating 15 (UK) Running time 120 mins.