Film – “Spy”
Cast – Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, Nargis Fakhri, Allison Janney, Miranda Hart and 50 Cent
Director – Paul Feig
Rating – ***1/2
Director Paul Feig’s infectiously entertaining, comic spy thriller is more of an espionage spoof than a genre-beaten action-thriller, which one usually imagines with such a title.
Packed with sentiments and passion, it is the story of Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy). She has the skills, spirit and courage of a spy, but her low esteem, relegates her to a desk job at the CIA’s basement office in Langley, Virginia. As an analyst, she is “technically a secretary to an agent”.
Her colleague Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), on an international mission, is tracking a stolen nuclear bomb that is soon to be sold by the Bulgarian Arms Dealer. Desk-bound Cooper constantly guides him, remotely. She warns him of the threats and danger that beset him at every turn making him dodge his enemies with unflustered confidence. She is in awe of Fine and soon develops a soft corner for him.
Unfortunately, the mission ends up in a disaster. The CIA team headed by Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) realise that the opponents are aware of all the CIA agents and hence them chasing the mafia would be hara-kiri. So, emotionally drawn to the case, Cooper volunteers to take up the field assignment.
Trailing Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne), the arms dealer’s daughter Cooper travels from Paris to Rome to Budapest with frumpy undercover identities she is forced to adopt.
The plot, though slightly contrived, gives equal weight to Cooper’s emotional journey, as she rises to the mission’s challenges, gains confidence and proves her worth to those around her. It works brilliantly because of the oddness of finding the unassuming Cooper in awkward situations and surroundings. The circumstances are extraordinary and yet believable. And the tone is tongue-in-cheek, which naturally gives the film a pleasantly affable shade.
Melissa McCarthy, who had earlier teamed up with director Paul Feig in “Bridesmaid” and “The Heat”, once again shines with an author-backed role. She displays her comic personality with aplomb. Her transition from an object of ridicule to a vulnerable but effective heroine, with a mouthful of diatribe and uninhibited aggression, makes her simply hilarious.
She is aptly supported by the ensemble cast. Jude Law as the dapper Bradley Fine who reminds you of the character James Bond 007, is charming. He lends the emotional hook for the plot to progress.
Jason Statham as her obstinate and aggressive colleague Rick Ford, who hampers her plans, is persuasive and unintentionally funny with his moves. Rose Byrne as the stoic Raina Boyanov is business-like and Miranda Hart, as Cooper’s nerdy sidekick is over-the-top.
For the Indian audience, Nagris Fakhri in a cameo is impressive. She plays a knife-wielding assassin with style. Her moment of screen glory is the well-choreographed fight scene in the kitchen. She impresses you with her agility.
Visually, the film is well-conceptualised with; production designer Jefferson Sage’s elegant and realistic designs, director of photography Robert D. Yeoman’s sharply focussed frames that capture the foreign locales, technically well-made action sequences that include Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham dangling from the foot of the helicopter in mid-air. These visuals layered by Theodore Shapiro’s music by editors Brent White and Melissa Bretherton simply make this feel-good film worth a watch.