Main cast: Melissa McCarty (Susan Cooper), Jason Statham (Rick Ford), Rose Byrne (Rayna Boyanov), Bobby Cannavale (De Luca), Miranda Hart (Nancy), Peter Serafinowicz (Aldo), Allison Janney (Elaine Crocker), and Jude Law (Bradley Fine)
Director: Paul Feig
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Spy is a family-friendly movie just because the premise is a fat dowdy chick playing a spy. That is a false premise hinted by the publicity materials and posters, when this movie is actually a cheerfully rude and naughty little thing full of jokes of a rather… adult nature. There are a couple of scenes of graphic violence, although done in a more comedic manner of course. I’m not saying that this is an awful movie, of course, it’s a great one. Just let your kids sneak out to watch this one without you tagging along, or else you may end up with some kind of guilty conscience.
In the CIA, we have Susan Cooper, who is cheerful and supportive of everyone, especially her field agent partner, the dapper Bradley Fine. However, due to her plumpness, her rather dowdy sense of style, and her mousy and unassertive nature all come together to make poor Susan just blend into the background in the last twenty years or so. Also, she is in love with Bradley, and, as her department boss Elaine Crocker correctly guesses later on, Bradley uses her good nature to his advantage, convincing her that she is better off behind the desk, providing the intel and support that made him the star of the CIA. When Bradley is seemingly killed on the job early in the movie, and the CIA learns that the villain, Rayna Boyanov, has the names and faces of their agents, the CIA needs someone whom Rayna most likely does not have information on to step up to the plate. Of course, Susan volunteers for the task.
Agent Rick Ford is not amused. He quits when Elaine decides to take Susan on, going rogue to take down the bad guys himself. Elaine, on the other hand, has more faith in Susan’s abilities after reviewing her files (Susan is actually a great shot and she is great at one-on-one fighting, and she has already proven her thinking smarts while working with Fine), but she wants Susan to do scouting work only. No messing around doing unnecessary heroics! Susan can’t help herself. however, as she ends up being pals of sorts to Rayna as the deliciously snobbish evil creature attempts to liaise with De Luca, the middleman to the biggest terrorists in town, in order to sell off her late father’s bomb to the highest bidder. Of course, Rick is going to show up often, much to Susan’s annoyance.
Spy is a cheerful subversion of the perception of women like Susan. Even the CIA’s made-up identities for Susan run towards cat ladies and other unfortunate stereotypes – “someone’s homophobic aunt” is Susan’s dismayed description of her new identities – and the joy comes from Susan actually breaking these stereotypes and rising above them. She’s actually the most capable person here, although she is by no means super capable, and her mistakes are as hilarious as her successes. Melissa McCarty is not playing against her usual roles here, but she makes the most out of the script with her excellent timing, likable demeanor, and infectious humor. Jason Statham is also hilarious as he plays a parody of his usual silent macho action hero role here, only his Rick is more bluster than capability. By the way, is this a first of sorts, a movie where the two male leads have receding hairline?
The plot makes as much sense as any comedic spy caper would – which is to say, not much, but since the whole movie is so much fun, I don’t really care. The one-liners are hilarious, and I find myself smiling from beginning to end. Spy is simply a delightful comedic action flick. Oh, and do watch the credits as they roll – the jokes continue all the way to the end!
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