Movie review: A funnywoman saves the day in Spy

Jason Statham as compromised agent Rick Ford, who talks big but is something of a dimwit. -- PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
Jason Statham as compromised agent Rick Ford, who talks big but is something of a dimwit. -- PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Melissa McCarthy steps up to save the world after agents Jude Law and Jason Statham fail to in spy thriller parody

Review Comedy-action

SPY (M18)

120 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5

The story: Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) feeds suave spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law) intelligence from behind her desk at the headquarters. When he falls off the grid, she steps up and goes undercover to get close to arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). The bumbling efforts of compromised agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) get in her way.

A-list leading man Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes, 2009) is in this movie and so is Jason Statham, the go-to guy for mid-budget action flicks such as the Transporter trilogy (2002-2008).

But there is no mistaking the fact that Melissa McCarthy is the star here. Even better, her character is no loser spy, but an effective one who can run, shoot and get out of tight spots like the best of them. Score one for the women.

It is good to see McCarthy finally land a vehicle that does her justice.

She has always been likeable and fans remember her fondly as the excitable chef Sookie St James on the drama Gilmore Girls (2000-2007). After she broke out on the big screen with a memorable turn in the raunchy Bridesmaids (2011), she seemed to be stuck in movies which ran the gamut from crappy to lacklustre: Identity Thief (2013), The Heat (2013) and Tammy (2014).

Teaming up again with writer-director Paul Feig after Bridesmaids and The Heat, she strikes gold this time.

Feig juggles spy-thriller parody, physical comedy and creatively salty insults in a movie that comes together nicely. From the opening credit sequence and theme song, which clearly reference James Bond, it is clear he has great affection for the globetrotting action-thriller genre even as he sends it up.

Neither is McCarthy merely the brunt of jokes – she blossoms from a mousy deskbound operative nursing a crush on super spy Fine to an effective agent who proves to be quick on her feet, despite being saddled with lame disguises (“I look like someone’s homophobic aunt,” she decries in one instance).

In a sizzling kitchen showdown with knives, pots and pans within easy reach, she also gets to unleash her lethal side.

The supporting players pull their weight as well.

Statham pokes fun at his oh-sointense on-screen persona through a character who talks big, but is something of a dimwit.

Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun Of The Dead, 2004) raises chuckles as an incorrigibly lecherous Italian agent who keeps hitting on Cooper.

Laughs, action and, buried beneath the pottymouthed dialogue, an inspirational message of believing in yourself – Spy has it all.

bchan@sph.com.sg