Please welcome Salty’s new Kernel, Glen Falkenstein, a writer I met at a screening for the folks at Roadshow Films, he sat next to me while we were treated to a high tea while watching THE WOMAN IN GOLD in Event’s Gold Class on George St – an amazing experience. Glen writes film reviews, features, commentary and covers local festivals and events in Sydney. He tweets, and can be stalked @ Glenfalkenstein. Now, please enjoy his review of SPY, it is out now, rated MA15+ and runs for exactly 2hrs. I have to throw in my 2c here – SPY is the first movie from Melissa McCarthy I have actually wanted to see and I actually had some fun and enjoyment while watching it. All the best……………JK.
“Two tickets to see Mad Ma… Spy.”
The lady tearing our tickets had just assumed we were going to see the action blockbuster everyone else as going to see, telling us to “enjoy the movie” in a commiserating tone.
Some spy parodies are as legendary as their more grounded contemporaries – CASINO ROYALE and the first two Austin Powers films to name a few. SPY has everything – cars, boats, casinos, tuxes, heroes clinging desperately to helicopters and agents saying things like “tell me where the bomb is” to some Eastern European, in this case Bulgarian villain.
It also had a massive budget – none of which was spent on script re-writes. Travelling to Italy and France among other exotic locales, CIA analyst turned-agent Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) pursues arms dealer Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne) and a nuclear device across Europe. Cooper struggles with her first time in the field in the shadow of much more experienced and glamorous agents. Jude Law and THE WEST WING’S Alison Janney join the CIA’s ranks along with FIREFLY’S Morena Baccarin. There follows a series of explosions, widespread destruction, an extended cameo from 50 Cent and for some reason Ukraine’s Eurovision 2007 entry Verka Serduchka performing ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai,’ because why not.
The studio just threw money at this thing in what could have been a rush attempt to capitalise on their budget prior to the close of the financial year. What starts as a semi-recognisable James Bond parody gives way to jokes about pink eye and characters getting their heads stuck near other people’s crotches. Standing out are the fighting and chase sequences – tense and well-choreographed, SPY could have used some longer action scenes to distract the agents from their inane chatter.
Saving the movie in part is Jason Statham who drops in and out as the super-dedicated, highly-efficient, none-too bright CIA operative. Statham gets all the best lines, constantly trying to one-up the other characters, confronting Susan in a hotel room to tell her that he “once drove a car onto a moving train while on fire – not the car, I was on fire.”
Statham’s elusive, ubiquitous ultra-macho ARCHER-esque CIA operative was the by the far the best thing about this movie and deserves his own. For fans of the popular FX show, this is the closest the tacktleneck-touting super-agent has come to appearing on screen; any scene with Statham is pure delight as he riffs off his own action cred.
McCarthy’s schtick gets old very quickly, running gags such as rats invading the CIA’s offices, resulting in one of the film’s best throwaway lines, are abandoned early on. Accents are all over the place – the very British Law and Statham play ostensibly American operatives, Sydney-born Rose Byrne plays a Bulgarian with implacable British diction.
An unoriginal movie saved in part by decent actors and engaging fight scenes, SPY doesn’t share the delight of the first JOHNNY ENGLISH and other contemporaries – at least SPY HARD had a soundtrack by Weird Al. Instead of spending the money on 50 Cent, next time it would be advisable to hire a decent script editor so we can hear Jason Statham say more things like “I saw the women I love fall out of a plane, only to get hit by another plane.”