Friday, 15 January 2016

Spy

It says a lot when the best thing about a film is Jason Statham. As the foul-mouthed, cocky and somewhat not-all-there agent Rick Ford, Statham shows us that he can be really funny. A film built around him and his character would’ve been genius, and launched ‘the Stath’ into super-stardom. But, this is a Paul Feig film. Yes, the man who made Bridesmaids and The Heat, and is soon to ruin many a-childhood with his Ghostbusters reboot, directed Spy. So, of course, it has to be The Melissa McCarthy Movie. Great.


Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray, Feig’s third collaboration with McCarthy is just more of the same really. Spy tells the story of Susan Cooper, a desk-bound CIA analyst who, after a shocking turn of events, must go undercover to thwart a deadly arms dealer and prevent global disaster. But of course, Susan is played by Melissa McCarthy. So expect lots of clumsiness, swearing and fat jokes. I should state here that I don’t think she is ‘fat’, nor do I think anyone is. The world’s obsession with body image is a disgrace. But McCarthy’s work with Feig seems to be purely based around her weight due to her being the butt of so many jokes, and it just feels tired now. If it’s still happening in Feig’s upcoming Ghostbusters travesty then the world needs to tell him to leave her alone. It’s getting to the point where he’s using her as a visual joke as much as anything, and it just feels cruel. Making up the rest of the cast with the never-better Jason Statham is Jude Law as pretty-boy James Bond-like super-agent Bradley Fine, Rose Byrne as the villainous Rayna Boyanov and a more-annoying-than-ever-before Miranda f*****g Hart as Susan’s friend and co-worker Nancy. Everyone puts in decent performances, in that they do the best they can with the script they were given. Outside of Hart, I’ve no major complaints about the supporting cast.


That being said, Spy follows the majority of recent comedy films that has come before it – it’s clearly got a large amount of improvisation. This can be funny – especially in the brilliant HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm - but in a Feig film, it’s tedious. Why? Each scene is far too long and each joke is stretched til it breaks, which is evident in the film’s 2 hour runtime alone. A lot of jokes miss the mark and when those jokes are dragged out, it gets painful to watch. This was mainly an issue in Miranda Hart’s scenes. Maybe if you’re a fan of hers (hey, I won’t judge) then you’ll find a lot to like in her performance here. But for me, her quirky British style felt completely out of place in Spy. But this all boils down to Feig. One of the most self-indulgent men in Hollywood; Feig developed, wrote, directed, and produced the film himself. I’m sure he absolutely loves it. There’s always been a certain sense of Feig making his films for himself rather than audiences, most evident in the painfully long runtimes and drawn-out scenes.

To be fair though, there’s some pretty decent action scenes scattered throughout Spy, giving the film’s spy-film-spoofing a little more oomph. Gun fights, hand-to-hand combat, car chases and things blowing up are all to be found in the film, and never feel sloppy or amateur as they sometimes do in a comedy film. 

But I’m filled with dread, fear and sadness at the prospect of his upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, and whatever other McCarthy films he’s got lined up for us. His films contain a repetitive formula that the public will grow tired of. In Bridesmaids it was original. Hell, McCarthy was (rather questionably) nominated for an Oscar for that role. Then she repeated the same thing in The Heat, but it looked like she was going to be doing something different here. As the unassuming and loveably clumsy Susan, I thought this was a fresh role for her. But as her character went undercover and she had to assume new identities, Feig couldn’t resist making her play the aggressive, foul-mouthed woman we’re all getting bored of. And that sums up the film.


Spy might’ve been a good film a few years ago. But now, it’s just a case of same shit, different film. When Feig started working on Spy, he said ‘a funny Casino Royale is my goal’. What he achieved was ‘an even shitter Quantum of Solace’. Watch it for Jason Statham’s hilarious scenes, but expect nothing else at all from it and you won’t be disappointed. 

Spy is Bridesmaids. Spy is The Heat. We’ve seen it all before. 2/5

★★☆☆☆

Sam Love



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