Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law in Spy
"There is slapstick here, but we know Susan has the chops to handle things and we are thankfully never invited to simply 'laugh at the fat girl'."

If buddy cop spoof The Heat fell short because its female characters were so misogynist they might as well have been male, this spy pastiche - this time written as well as directed by Paul Feig - embraces its sassy female side to much better effect. Not only does it showcase the depth of Melissa McCarthy's comic talents, it features a clutch of additional female characters who are almost as much fun.

McCarthy's Susan Cooper has been in the spy game for a decade, which is a lot less cool than it sounds when you discover she been stuck in a basement that doubles as a holiday home for (albeit cute) vermin. There, she helps her suave spy partner Bradly Fine (Jude Law) take on the bad guys by being 'in his ear' as he goes on his missions, although she would much rather be in his arms. When things go south on their latest outing, the CIA discovers that arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) has being playing I Spy with their personnel, which will make it almost impossible for their field agents to get close to her without being made.

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Susan - whose tells her basement pal Nancy (Miranda Hart) that her mother's motto was, "Blend in, let someone else win" - realises she is perfect for the case as nobody knows who she is. And so, armed with the world's least sexy undercover identity, she heads to Paris.

It's at this point that the fun really starts, as Feig begins to unpick our expectations. Susan isn't Police Squad's Frank Drebin - although there are a couple of 'accidental' killings here that are up there with the Zucker Brothers' finest - she is smart, knows how to handle a gun and is pretty adept at physical combat. There is slapstick here, but we know Susan has the chops to handle things and we are, thankfully, never invited to simply 'laugh at the fat girl'.

Byrne's bitch queen Rayna is also enormous fun, deadpanning her way through cutting one-liners after her character buys one of Susan's identities and takes her under her wing, while Hart gets to showcase comic timing every bit as good as McCarthy's. And Jason Statham has, arguably, never been better than he is here, sending up his gung-ho persona as rogue agent Rick Ford, who turns up swearingly at key moments accusing Susan of being useless before threatening to sabotage everything with ineptidue. Special mention must also be made of Peter Serafinowicz's lascivious Italian agent Aldo, whose Pepe Le Pew-style amour is the source of some great gags and adds to sense of Susan being fully her own woman.

Importantly, Feig has come up with a decent plot to underpin the jokes. It may be formulaic - but so are many Bond movies - and even if it doesn't quite build to a crescendo of tension, the armory of gags is plentiful and Feig's aim is accurate. A sequel is already on the horizon and, for once, that may not be a bad thing.

Reviewed on: 03 Jun 2015
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A CIA agent leaves her desk job to track a deadly arms dealer.
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Director: Paul Feig

Writer: Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Peter Serafinowicz

Year: 2015

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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