Many of us aren’t yet sure about Melissa McCarthy. But one thing we all know is that she shines gloriously in any film directed by Paul Feig (a la “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat”). He knows her strengths and weaknesses, and allows her to play the straight-man.
In Spy, she plays Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst who spends all of her time behind a computer monitor, acting as the eye-in-the-sky for lead agent, Bradley Fine (Jude Law), as he goes out in the field. But after Fine is compromised and a terrorist group hacks into a list of the CIA’s agents, Cooper’s director (Allison Janney) assigns her to go out into the field since she is unrecognizable.
Susan is an overweight, bubbly, cat-lady-looking lady with no fieldwork experience, and everyone doubts her abilities–including agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) who doesn’t get nearly enough screen time as he provides us with some of the film’s best scenes.
Of course, one of the main themes here is “proving everyone wrong”–a subtext that comes off as a little too forceful at times. Everyone in the film mocks McCarthy’s character and makes fun of her weight and her looks. This is effective to an extent if done properly, but the characters exploit every chance they have to belittle her, and the constant defamation really starts to get old about halfway through the movie.
But this film gives us an almost perfect blend of comedy and action, and doesn’t sacrifice one for the other. There seems to be so much effort placed in making sure that the action sequences are well-done, and it shows.
On the comedy side of things, Feig often seems to go for a little more disorder that it comes off as inconsistent, but it’s just evident of his range.
And as seamless as the film is, perhaps its biggest downfall is that every time a protagonist is about to die, someone on their team conveniently shows up to save them. It’s expected to happen, but not to the extent that it is in this film.
It’s not a perfect film, but it’s just about there. It may not break into new territory, however it’s a very solid movie in both genres. The cast is excellent. McCarthy is superb. Spy has definitely moved into her top 3 films. And guess what the other two are.