Spy (Paul Feig, 2015)

Confidently disproving naysayers on their path of continued success, repeat collaborators Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy don’t so much perfect their rapport with Spy as they do round out a laudable trifecta of R-rated fare. Focusing on exemplary CIA analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy), a tragic turn of events plops her smack in the middle of a gestating nuclear arms deal. Tasked with inconspicuously tracking the whereabouts of those involved, Susan’s efforts are compromised by the involvement of bumbling rogue agent Ford (Jason Statham) and an unsolicited if necessary infiltration of Bulgarian bad girl Rayna Boyanov’s (Rose Byrne) crime ring.

For as repeatedly vocal people have been about McCarthy’s typecast, both her and Feig have proven once again that her chops as one of the most talented and versatile comedic actors of this generation are for real. Despite the narrative drawing obvious inspiration from similarly stilted super spy territory, the beauty here is in the details and no, I’m not just referring to the female lead. As out-and-out R-rated fare, Spy exploits alternating strengths by way of vulgarity-laden character exchanges and deft enough action, the latter of which peaks during an inventive late-in-the-game kitchen brawl with an enigmatic assailant.

As to be expected, McCarthy is at her best when a necessary persona shift throws her into crass, semi-improvisational overdrive. A line concerning Byrne’s Rayna’s comparison of Susan to her trainwreck of a (deceased) mother rings exceptionally effective, my embarrassing gasp-riddled giggle fit serving only to remind me that the timing of certain dialogue is far and away Spy‘s strongest suit. Like The Heat before it, the violence in Spy doesn’t shy away from being, well, violent as it’s imbued with a levity that helps the film effectively maintain its tone.

One’s opinion of Spy is directly contingent upon how you feel about the three-peat creative team-up on display. It remains serviceable spoof material in the realm of the decidedly violent and vulgar, however fans of Bridesmaids and The Heat‘s sensibilities will assuredly enjoy what’s on display here, performances especially. Employing its “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” mantra with an effectively McCarthy-heavy gusto, Spy is essentially more of the same from Feig in a disparate narrative wrapper.


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