Melissa McCarthy stars in writer/director Paul Feig’s ‘Spy.’
It seems like the trend now is to make a spy movie that initially parodies the genre, but in turn, becomes part of the entire scheme by the end of things. It worked earlier this year with Kingsman, and it has succeeded again, this time with Paul Feig’s Spy.
After spoofing the rom-com with Bridesmaids followed by buddy cop films with The Heat, Feig moves his attention towards the spy flick, namely the sleek and suave James Bond films that dominate and have eventually become the face of the genre. Spy keeps with Feig’s other films and puts Melissa McCarthy in the lead role, but unlike their other collaborations, he finally gives her a straight, lead role instead of the caricature, sidekick character that she usually plays.
Spy follows Susan Cooper (McCarthy), a CIA analyst who works from her desk at the headquarters to help agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) with his missions. Fine is the quintessential spy, brimming with sexuality and strength that even over the microphone, Susan is swooning. But Fine’s mission fails thanks to Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who is trying to take out members of the CIA who try to stop her from causing nuclear destruction.
With Fine out of the field, Susan decides to go after Rayna since no one would know who she is, but she is constantly halted by the persistent negligence of Rick Ford (Jason Statham), who wants to gain the credit for himself and his macho personality.
Feig has shown in his previous films that he has a greater than adept understanding of comedy and how to time it just right (going back to his work on TV with shows such as The Office and Arrested Development) and Spy is no different. The director has probably got a rhythm down with McCarthy, but the two work so harmoniously together, it is tough not to get sucked up into this comedic force that the two bring together.
After playing two lovable, but ultimately doofus roles in Bridesmaids and The Heat, it is finally McCarthy’s turn to play the “straight man” role and not completely rely on her over-the-top antics and outbursts (even though they still come out and are hilarious). Instead, she is able to show impeccable range and solidify the fact that even though she has had her share of flops, she can still command a comedy leading role.
But she is almost outdone by the strong supporting characters played by Byrne and Statham, who each show up on one side of the spectrum of absurdity. Byrne continues to be the best open secret in comedy as once again she displays that she is outlandishly funny, and can stay as stern as a statue while doing it. Once the second act is kicked off, and she is coming in contact more with McCarthy, it is an avenue for her to show off her incredible comedic skills once again. We have seen them before in Bridesmaids and Neighbors, but the fact that she was playing a more traditional villain and was able to bring out laughs was more impressive.
Statham, known more for being an over-the-top action star, plays to that trope and shows that he still posses the comedic prowess that was required in his early films like Snatch and Lock, Shock, and Two Smoking Barrels. He and McCarthy flow together perfectly, and once again, he pops up when he needs to and quietly steals the moments that he is on screen. Also, for the second time this year, it seems like his role is reserved to showing up at inopportune times and doing damage (see also Furious 7).
Feig isn’t re-inventing the mold like he did in Bridesmaids or showcasing the talent like in The Heat, but instead shows that he is a staple comedic director and why he was an easy choice for Ghostbusters 3. He understands what make moments funny, and with the help of a talented cast that he gets the most from, is able to execute those moments better than anyone else.