Archive for September, 2015

Spy (2015)

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Spy (2015) PosterWritten and directed by Paul Feig Spy is about a CIA assistant who gets placed in the field in an effort to stop the sale of a nuclear device.  From the poster the film looked like it would be a dull, unfunny and generally unremarkable film. On watching though this cynical assumption turned out to be entirely untrue and I am pleased that I was wrong.

As seems to be the flavour at the moment Spy is a spoof spy film, paying homage to tropes that have becomes synomomous with spy films from the start of the 00’s and earlier, before they became gritty like Casino Royale (2006) and the Bourne films (2002 onwards). There are fights, gadgets, quips and explosions but they are mostly tongue in cheek. It is nice that the film does not mock the genre to the point it becomes a farce ala Austin Powers International Man of Mystery (1997), instead it leaves some elements where the comedy is dialed back and some well acted scenes are allowed to come to the forefront. This is often the action scenes which serve as pleasant palette cleansers between story advancement and moments of more brevity and light-heartness.

In the action scenes the film seems to have drawn influence from Jackie Chan films, featuring physical comedy in physical combat, placing a frying pan on her head to deflect a knife stab while pulling a slight face is an example of such. The comedy is also brought from the excellent casting of Jason Statham who plays a caricature of himself, a gruff agent who is self assured, confident but whom is not quite as good as he would imagine himself and combined with his blue language drew laughter on multiple occasions. [Also any film that references Face/Off (1997) gets some early appreciation from me.]

The casting of the film is also one which raised a few eyebrows as they were announced, while Jude Law as a super smooth covert operative is not surprising or shocking the British cast who made it into the film was. Miranda Hart and Peter Serafinowicz both took fabulous roles and helped lift the film as the friend and very hands-on Itialian agent respectively. It is pleasing to see strong performances by Brits in American films without them being type-cast. [It is possible that there are some other Brits I have failed to notice but, C’est la vie.] Mellissa McCarthy taking the titular role as the Spy fitted it brilliantly, her timing was great and when she had to appear crest-fallen she pulled it off with great poise though she has many moments of mirth in the film.

The film is not a particularly complex one, but it does not set out to be one, it is entertaining though and one which could be re-visited at a later date. While it may lack the star power of Kingsmam: The Secret Service (2014) the film is more restrained in its asperations, aping the level of threat of Mission: Impossible (1996) opposed to GoldenEye (1995), with a more modest and real level of danger the movie seems to laughing with its source material rather than at it.

It is funny, has some good bits of action and does not take it self too seriously. If you are after an action film and want something light and a bit different pick up Spy and have a watch.

[The music for the film also featured a performance from the 2007 Ukraine Eurovision Song Contest, causing me great amusement and led to me playing the song on a trip I took to Edinburgh.]

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