4 hours ago
Monday, 8 June 2015
Melissa McCarthy (from the much better 'Bridesmaids') plays the unlikely F.B.I. agent hopping around Europe after volunteering for a job following the demise of an agent who was chasing illicit arms trading, where it's thought that her less obvious Junoesque figure may be an advantage. Locations are Paris, Rome and Budapest, where the captions helpfully tell us in which countries these 'little-known' cities can be found. (Why is it that we see no films which say 'New York, U.S.A.', as also with Washington D.C., Los Angeles etc?)
Also on hand are suave and Bond-style Jude Law with (and much more interesting), Jason Statham, all overflowing anger, super-confident of his own abilities and contemptuous of others. It was he who was the saving grace of this film for me, with an impressive ability to deliver dry, silly lines while keeping totally straight-faced. Shame, then, that his screen time wasn't as extensive as I'd expected.
Miranda Hart is also there, and she just doesn't seem to fit comfortably in the plot both as a person and in the scheme of things. Another pity
It's a very physical film (a lot of it very violent) with McCarthy drawing on reserves of energy one would not have expected from someone with her physique. She also packs one hell of a punch and she has no mean accuracy when it comes to using her gun - but these are all part of the absurdities which are meant to define this as a comedy..
The 'jokes' are either slapstick-like or, verbally, based on the assumption that the cruder one is then the funnier it must be, which, as we all know, is simply not true. I think it betrays a lameness in the script, something which a lot of our present-day younger stand-up comedians also fail to recognise.
The world this film inhabits reminded me a lot of the 'Johnny English' films. Of course the Melissa McCarthy figure is miles apart from that played by Rowan Atkinson, but they share a gaucheness in both action and words of not realising the implication and consequences of what they are doing or saying, at least until it's too late and the action has accordingly moved on..
The two-hour film was too long by at least thirty minutes. It ought to have been sharper but the fights are over-prolonged and could have been cut back with improved effect.
Director (and writer of this) Paul Feig also directed 'Bridesmaids', which I found a much more satisfactory film, though also patchy in its comedic moments. I think Feig over-indulges himself here, which shows especially in the bone-crunching combat scenes.
'Spy' has had generally quite good reviews. I don't subscribe to them, but I've certainly seen worse, a lot worse. Besides, there's always the chance that you will be one of those roaring in mirth. From me it gets a humble........................4.