Film review: Statham steals show in stellar Bond send-up, Spy

Spy. Picture: Larry Horricks

Spy. Picture: Larry Horricks - Credit: Archant

Melissa McCarthy also proves her credentials in a movie far more imaginative than its title suggests, says Michael Joyce.

“You gotta love the Stath,” is a phrase traditionally spoken whenever males are gathered together. And it’s true. You may not want to, it may leave you feeling slightly demeaned, you may actively fight against it, but ultimately you will succumb. Here, playing the CIA’s top agent, he sends himself and his image up wildly and steals every scene he’s in. Of course the sent up Jason Statham isn’t so very different from the unsent up Jason Statham. The only comic twist they have added is that he’s now a little boy liar, making up outrageous and preposterous exaggerated stories about his past adventures.

His is the sore thumb role, as the rest of the film is basically a Bond parody, a genre that has been around almost as long as Bond films themselves but definitely seems to be in the middle of a revival right now. McCarthy is basically a more pro-active Moneypenny to Jude Law’s Bond, the voice in his earpiece telling him his escape route or where the next set of assailants is coming from (so actually she’s more Chloe to Law’s Jack Bauer.) After the cover of all the CIA’s top agents gets blown, she is forced to leave her desk and go into the field to help track down a missing nuclear weapon.

The film is too long, surprisingly violent and probably a bit too sweary for some viewers, but mostly very funny and a damn sight more imaginative than its title. Troll wisdom holds that McCarthy is just a fat woman who swears a lot, a male Kevin James, but here she shows herself to be a genuinely resourceful and skillful comic, with a nice balance between being abrasive and showing a little vulnerability. She is an unlikely film star but her best attribute is that she plays fairly with the others and lets everybody in the cast do their best. The film is perhaps a little too even handed at times, at the expense of its focus. The supporting cast seems to be working shifts, clocking in for 20 minutes stretches, disappearing off for a tea break and then reappearing just when you thought they’d clocked off for the day.

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