Feig regular Melissa McCarthy takes on the role of Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst who works from the office, in the ear of Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) instructing him on his dangerous endeavours. However when he is killed by the nefarious criminal Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne), Cooper is entrusted with the task of following her out in the field, and reporting back with information about the potential handing over of a nuclear bomb which will put the safety of millions in severe danger. In disguise, Cooper becomes a little closer to her target than what had been initially briefed, all the while trying to avoid rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) who is determined to solve this mission singlehandedly.
Surprisingly, Spy triumphs in a dramatic sense more so than in a comedic one. In fact, at times the narrative is undermined and compromised following the implementing of superfluous one-liners. The story is absorbing, and as spy movies go, this is certainly an accomplished turn, regrettably the same just can’t be said when referring to this title as a comedy. Towards the end, during an action orientated helicopter sequence, which is somewhat engrossing, Miranda Hart – who plays Cooper’s best friend and colleague Nancy – interrupts proceedings and makes an unfunny joke about 50 Cent, cheapening the scene accordingly.
Such moments would be forgiven if the material was of a higher standard, whereas instead this title falls into the usual tropes of the spoof genre, playing up on stereotypes throughout. The anomaly, however, is Statham – who has been given the most well-crafted comic figure, as the clumsy spy who takes himself far more seriously than he ought to. But none of the characters are believable. Yes, Spy is a farcical comedy so the filmmakers have some licence to play on the notion of reality – but it remains a distraction nonetheless. Bobby Cannavale, who plays the merciless crime lord De Luca, calls Cooper Miss Havisham at one point. Hmm, didn’t realise gangsters read Dickens in their spare time. While on a similar note, it would be quite intriguing to have been a fly on the wall in the job interview that saw Miranda Hart and Peter Serafinowicz land jobs at the CIA.
But in some ways, it’s that never judging a book by its cover theme which provides this film with its positive message – and one that should be preached. The problem is, it’s forced upon the viewer from start to finish, and just doesn’t signal a progression in McCarthy’s career that she needs to take. She has such a remarkable vulnerability about her demeanour and can straddle the line between comedy and pathos with ease. But she’s persistently given these hackneyed roles to deal with, not allowing us to really see her full potential.