Spy is a 2015 spy comedy film directed by Paul Feig and starring Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham and Jude Law. It is one of the best comedies of the decade without a doubt.
It is about a CIA analyst Susan Cooper who becomes an agent in an attempt to stop the sail of the suitcase nuke. It is an incredibly entertaining film that manages to be a perfect mix of spy action and pure comedy. It is a terrific parody of the genre with a story always engaging and fun. But the humor drives the film. Comedies are supposed to be at least somewhat funny and Spy succeeds in spades as it is funny for the entire running time which is an incredible achievement as it lasts for a bit over two hours. That length is unusual for the genre and often such long comedies run out of fuel or start slow (case in point with Judd Apatow films with ‘Knocked Up‘ being the best example), but this movie never feels overlong, running at just the right amount of time for this story and it is always funny with often hilarious results.
The character development is the biggest reason apart from the humor that the film works. All of the characters are all so incredibly well developed and almost all of them are so funny and interesting. Susan Cooper is such a spectacular protagonist with her shift from a clumsy agent to a super spy being at least somewhat believable and done in the right way, the long route. She is not only extremely funny, but also a likable and very realistic person and a great female character above all, but more on that later. Rick Ford is the weakest link as he is a typical action character, but even he has his moments. Rayna is a terrific character and the relationship between her and Susan is one of the highlights. And Nancy is also very likable in her clumsy and awkward nature and is great as the main character’s great friend. And all of the other minor characters are well realized as well.
The acting in Spy is amazing! Each and every one of the actors in this incredibly strong cast did such a wonderful job that it is one of the reasons the whole experience seems professional and just phenomenal across the board. Melissa McCarthy gives her finest role to date, there is no doubt about it. She is usually typecast and although that persona she usually plays is still there, this is mostly a new, more realistic and genuinely more sympathetic character that she gives life to in style. She is incredibly funny not in the lines she says as those are the scriptwriters’ achievements but in the faces she makes and the delivery of those lines which is perfect. She carries the whole movie on her shoulders, but also giving it some breathing room and allowing the other actors to shine and they do shine on many occasions making this one of the most well rounded comedies recently with each and every character/actor getting his/her proper due.
Let’s talk about Rose Byrne. Wow, what a terrific performance. I was stunned and simply amazed at how talented this actress is. I watched her in ‘Neighbors‘ and I knew how good she was, but I did not expect anything like this and I was blown away. I would go so far as to call her the finest actress here, she is even better than McCarthy and gave a better performance when you really think about it. This was an unusual and rather difficult role for her, but she sold it, giving a powerhouse performance in the process. Jude Law is quite good and even Jason Statham has one of the funniest moments in the last act. Bobby Cannavale is okay in a weird and very different role for him and Miranda Hart is stupendous as this awkward British woman. All of the actors and actresses get their moments, give terrific performances and make their characters real and stand out.
Now, the humor they say is broad here, but I absolutely adored it nonetheless. Yes, it may seem typical at first, but it is so well executed and so hilarious that you gotta love it. My favorite parts are the insulting parts which are all elaborately imagined and represented. The highlights for me are the sequences in which Susan gets a new identity, each of those being incredibly funny with the end part being just hilarious and a three-act punch with three jokes succeeding one another in quick succession. And the whole movie feels like it. Everything is quick, but never annoyingly fast-paced and the they are just firing on all cylinders here, giving you laughs literally throughout the whole flick.
However, there are a couple of problems I’ve had with Spy. The first one is that the humor sometimes tends to rely too much in cursing which I dislike and the insulting which can get overwhelming. Now, both of these are extremely well done, but can sometimes be too much. The second problem is Jason Statham who I personally strongly dislike along with the other action actors, but I am not biased, I just genuinely disliked his character and found him to be the most boring of the group. Yes, he does provide a hilarious moment in the end, but that is just one moment, the rest is just his stupid egoistic dialogue and his stupid macho behavior and accent. Also, the gore can get overwhelming and the action sequences sometimes do drag. All of these problems are minor, but still hurt the movie to some degree.
Now, apart from genius acting, we have a terrific direction from Paul Feig who once again shows what a great comedic actor he is and how great the McCarthy-Feig duo really is. And he made his best movie here, much better than both ‘Bridesmaids‘ and ‘The Heat‘, both really good movies, but this is just on an entire new level. The photography is excellent with the clothes, make-up and beautiful city scenery being all bright and exquisite. The score is forgettable, but the pacing is superb and the dialogue is just fantastic. It is incredibly well made both in the storytelling and acting department. And the tone is great giving you all of the spy action along with the humor, making it a great parody. As for its nature, it is a feminist movie, but the one that is incredibly sophisticated and never too on-the-nose. The female characters here are badass but also realistic and so likable across the board and the message is evident in the film’s last moments which I won’t spoil but just say that it made the whole movie all the more professional and smart.
Spy is an incredible movie. It has simply fantastic humor providing endless laughs throughout the whole running time, the screenplay is sophisticated and all of the actors shine in their roles and make their characters, already incredibly well developed, really stand out with Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy being the highlights, both so phenomenal. It does have some flaws including too much cursing and gore plus Jason Statham is mostly obnoxious, but it is an entirely memorable, riveting and unpredictable film that is so well crafted in every aspect leading to what is undoubtedly one of the very best comedies of this decade.