4/5 MUST must see SEE
dir-scr Paul Feig
prd Paul Feig, Peter Chernin, Jessie Henderson, Jenno Topping
with Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Allison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz, Bobby Cannavale, Curtis Jackson, Morena Baccarin, Bjorn Gustafsson, Zach Woods
release US/UK 5.Jun.15
15/US Fox 2h00
Undercover: McCarthy and Statham

byrne law janney
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Spy After revamping the buddy-cop genre with The Heat, McCarthy and Feig turn to the spy movie, again playing merrily with the cliches while generating some genuine thrills along the way. But what makes this film so much fun is its riotously clever screenplay, packed with hilarious dialog and characters that make the situations both funny and intense.

Susan (McCarthy) is a desk-bound agent at CIA headquarters, guiding super-spy Bradley (Law) through his paces half a world away. She and her best pal colleague Nancy (Hart) long to get out into the field, and Susan gets her chance when their boss (Janney) needs an operative who isn't known to the villainous Rayna (Byrne). Undercover, Susan heads to Paris, Rome and then Budapest, tracking Rayna to the dealer (Cannavale) who wants to buy a stolen nuke. But Susan's mission is complicated by rogue agent Rick (Statham) and rather too-tactile local contact Aldo (Serafinowicz).

This is one of McCarthy's best characters yet, mainly because she never tries to make Susan into her usual abrasive slob. Susan is capable and smart, and has sharply pointed wit to match. Her banter with the other characters is perfectly timed, and graded differently depending on who she's talking to. For example, her scenes with Byrne go from quietly amusing to hysterically rude as Susan is forced to change her cover story with Rayna. All of the supporting cast is skilled enough to both keep up with McCarthy and to keep her on her toes.

Statham is particularly hilarious as he sends up his usual macho tough-guy persona, while Law does a terrific wannabe James Bond pastiche and Cannavale lends a bit of swagger to the shady baddie. Other roles actually have some comical complexity, including Byrne's tetchy villain, Hart's gung-ho pal and even Sarafinowicz's leery Italian. And of course Janney is simply fabulous, stealing each of her relatively few scenes.

Instead of a spoof, Feig cleverly makes sure he's making a properly exciting spy romp that just happens to be consistently funny. There are plenty of inspired running gags (such as the vermin infestation in the CIA basement), but most of the humour comes from the characters themselves. Meanwhile, the story charges forward with the momentum of a proper action blockbuster, all of which makes the story so involving that it's impossible to get to the end without hoping this is the start of a franchise.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, brief sexuality 26.May.15

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