Poor Melissa McCarthy, she hasn’t had the best of runs in comedies over the past few years. Not by her fault mind, it was usually down to shitty scripts, but with the release of “Spy”, there seems to be a change in the air for the better.
Starring alongside the likes of Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, and many others, McCarthy plays a CIA operative in the control room where agents are aided on their missions via ear-pieces and camera. She sees the agent she is monitoring killed on a mission (Jude Law), and is determined to complete the mission for him. Reluctantly her boss accepts, and so she is sent onto the field for the first time in order to prevent the sale of a portable nuclear device.
So in terms of set up, it is hitting all the marks a standard spy movie should be aiming for. But Melissa brings a lot of fresh perspective to the lead, especially as an operative who willingly takes on the mission instead of reluctantly taking it on. And on that point, let’s chat about the changes made that make this so much better than the likes of the disgrace that was “Identity Thief”. Where before she would have been a stumbling buffoon, now she is a perfectly capable operative, intelligent, confident, and honestly, quite a badass when the situation requires it. It is the first time that her character isn’t simply being fat-shamed or having sexist jokes flung at her. Now, she is the genuine lead and for the right reasons.
The results of these changes to the character and script are, well, startling. Instead of praying for the disc to spontaneously combust so the film could end quicker, now I was completely enjoying her character and jokes. She is likeable, charismatic, and even gets to do some entertaining pieces in the action sequences. I know I’m dragging on longer than usual about just one character, but really, that is how much improved Melissa McCarthy’s character is developed here. It makes ALL the difference to the film.
On to other aspects and happily things stay bright and positive. There definitely looks to have been some serious work done on the comedic lines and set pieces, because more often than not, they work really damm well. There were times I found myself laughing hard, and the portrayal of Jason Statham as this inept, manic, and balls-to-the-wall rogue agent is hilarious. The humour is kept fresh throughout in a way that kind of reminds me of “Horrible Bosses” when I saw that for the first time. Just very, very strong.
And thankfully this doesn’t resort to being a spy parody. Even though there are times when it makes fun of typical spy scenes just as the gadgets development department, those parts are worked in to where they get a good response. And on many levels it puts in some genuinely entertaining spy-movie story elements that aren’t just a “theme” for a mediocre movie to hitch a ride on. This was made by fans of the genre, and it shows through.
And as for those said action scenes, they may be few but are good fun. Especially the fight scene in the kitchen near the end which shockingly, has some fucking intense moments! I mean, looking at the Blu Ray cover, would you have expected that at all? Not me either, but you are given that as an extra bonus. I’m sure there are tonnes of references in here too, but I was only able to catch a few.
Sure, some jokes feel flat or resort to fat-humour. And the pacing is a little inconsistent coming towards the final act. But this was a real surprise of a comedy. All of the problems that films starring Melissa McCarthy as the lead have previously had are almost completely gone. And instead you are treated to some great raunchy humour, fun action, a solid performing cast, good cameos, and a fell through the whole movie that this was made to be a quality comedy. In terms of the genre, it may be one of the best of 2015, and…. I can’t believe I’m even saying that!
“Spy” may look from the posters as another bottom shelf script jumbled together into a release to back a quick Buck. But finally, it seems things are turning around for Melissa and I am so happy to see that. Hopefully this will lay the foundations for things to get better and bigger for her, and for the fans out there, this is easily one of her best performances.
Thanks for reading!