Monday, 8 June 2015

Spy (15)

You may not have heard, but there's a new Bond film coming out later this year.

But don't worry if you can't wait that long, because there are two films out right now that will keep you ticking over.

Survivor clearly has aspirations to Bondhood, and even has a former Licensee To Kill at the helm in Pierce Brosnan. (There was also Spooks of course, but the less said about that the better).

Spy, meanwhile, has gone for a slightly different approach.

As you'd expect from Paul Fieg - the man who brought us Bridesmaids and The Heat - it's not a straightforward look at the spy genre.

Instead, it's got it's tongue firmly in it's cheek, it's heart (and there's a lot of love for Bond here) in the right place and - as you'd expect from Fieg and Melissa McCarthy - a bucketload of gags.

The story is not what you'd call complicated - after watching her spy partner Jude Law get shot, McCarthy steps up to go after Rose Byrne's Roya Boyanov, enlisting the help of Miranda Hart (yup, that one) and Peter Serafinowicz.

And the hindrance of Jason 'The Stathe' Statham.

And no stone is left unexploded in the team's bid to pay homage to a franchise everyone clearly loves.

There's a small amount of lampooning, as the women tend to come out on top, but this isn't a Spy Harder or a Hot Shots Part Deux.

Instead, it's Statham and Law's chance to play 007 with slapstick and puke gags thrown in for fun.

And fun it really is.

It's loud, brash, violent (all the blood never spilt in a Bond film is shed here), gross, ridiculous and - perhaps most surprisingly - subtle.

While the big laughs come with McCarthy throwing up after killing someone, or fainting over another corpse, the real gems are in the Bond geek moments.

Ever noticed how Bond films always feature a mildly patronising "local culture" scene every time Bond arrives somewhere knew (which is also handily spelt out on the screen)?

Fieg has.

And every new location is treated to this, and never in a way the local tourist board would appreciate.

Then there's the fight scenes.

Fieg gets right in close, so you can feel every bone break (as well as see and hear it). Every twatting with a frying pan rings around the cinema.

But it's not just a slapstick barf fight.

As well as the glamour and the action, Spy knows it has to have some sort of story with twists and turns (and a large amount of the ridiculous to hold it together) and Fieg delivers here too.

People pitch up out of nowhere to save the day, coincidences handily tie the story together, and there's a casino scene which will have Casino Royale fans grinning like idiots.

That's not to say Spy is perfect.

Miranda is asked to do nothing more than play Miranda - which may help shift her TV show stateside but adds nothing extra here - which is a shame when she can clearly act, and there's a very odd moment when Byrne has overdubbed herself. Obviously so.

There's also a point about an hour in when it feels like you've been in the cinema for days, but somehow Fieg manages to claw it back for his grand finale.

And the celebrity cameo is painful.


All that said.

Spy is a whole bunch of swearing-stuffed fun.

Statham, Law and Serafinowicz are all clearly having the time of their lives, with Serafinowicz in particular almost stealing the show from McCarthy.

Not that that was ever really going to happen.

This is, after all, her show, and again she shows why she is one of the best comedy film actors around today (Mike & Molly never happened, OK? NEVER).

She gives her character depth, her delivery is faultless and she even takes on the action stuff head on and wins.

Spy isn't hard hitting, gritty or satirical. But it shouldn't be.

What it is is a massively fun way to while away a couple of hours.

It won't change your life, but it will make you laugh. A lot.

And that's almost the same thing.

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