Spy (2015) – Film Review

The Filmnomore Movie Blog stands alone – this film isn’t very good


Spy is written and directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013)) and stars Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper who has been with the CIA for ten years providing tech support to field agents such as Bradley Fine (Jude Law).  When the latest operation goes wrong her boss Elaine Crocker (Alison Janney) is persuaded to send her to Paris to observe and report as the CIA tries to track down a nuclear bomb.  Obviously the first thing Cooper does is ignore those instructions and finds herself at the centre of the action.

Spy is underneath the silliness a story about female empowerment and young women finding the confidence that they can do just as well as men in the same occupation.  The CIA boss is a woman, the lead baddie is a woman and Cooper is the female agent with all the skills who during the course of the movie has to find an inner steel to complete her mission.  Those are the positives of the film – we’ll ignore for the purpose of this review the overt sexism of the male characters being depicted as either stupid or buffoonish.  There’s also the mild racism regarding Italian men not being able to keep their hands to themselves and having to wolf whistle at every pretty lady they see.

Those however are not the films biggest problems.  The biggest problem is that 90% of the time it isn’t funny which for a action comedy is a big hurdle to overcome.  I found the rambling indecisive dialogue of McCarthy’s character largely infuriating.  I thought it worked much better when McCarthy was big, bold and ‘f’ bombing.  Janney has the best lines in the film including a reference to YouTube which had me laughing and that was down to her impeccable sense of timing as opposed to the strength of the joke itself.  It’s difficult to put my finger on it but I really struggle with what I can best describe as the childish, occasionally crude, humour that dominates Hollywood comedies at the moment.  The whole bit about the vermin infestations and the “I’ve got a rat on my t**s” gag?  Sorry, I don’t get it.  This film has none of the brilliance of Kingsman: The Secret Service that I enjoyed very much.

On the subject of infuriating characters we have Miranda Hart as a fellow tech support agent Nancy.  Those of us in the UK will be familiar with her work in the sitcom Miranda and she plays exactly the same character.  She delivers more rambling gobbledygook while being very annoying and ineffectual before discovering she might be a super-sniper … before dropping the gun … oh how I laughed.  There are a few inconsistencies in the movie including the use of foul language.  In one scene Cooper says “Mother Butler” insinuating use of a certain expletive but then a few moments later is using the full mother ‘f’ bomb with gay abandon.  There is also an odd use of soundtrack versus score as the film sets itself up as a Bond spoof with a full-on 007 opening title sequence with animation and booming song.  This is backed up with a score that sounds eerily like any of Daniel Craig’s recent outings before this is replaced intermittently by pop tracks.  Spy sadly undermines its premise of the bumbling wannabe agent who will somehow win the day by showing very early on what Miss Cooper might not be as hapless as we first think.  I’ll say no more, I’m not into spoilers.

In summary the film delivers a positive message for young women but fails to strike comedic gold.  A few McCarthy expletive ridden rants and the appearance of Allison Janney just about save Spy from being truly terrible.  We’re not in Mortdecai territory with this one.  My rating 2/5.


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