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Spy

Year: 2015
Production Co: Chernin Entertainment
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Paul Feig
Producer: Peter Chernin/Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Allison Janney, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Jason Statham, Bobby Cannavale

The funniest thing about this comedy is Jason Statham, sending himself up to a degree that reminds you how knowing an actor he is about the tone and style of performance when he needs to be.

That's not the say the rest isn't funny, but it is all a little bit middle of the road, even in its efforts to be subversive by upending the tropes we all know from the spy universes of James Bond et al.

Jude Law is Bradley Fine, the debonair gentleman secret agent who works for the CIA and who – while dispatching bad guys in dusty basements running underneath castles with black tie parties going on upstairs whilst wearing a tuxedo – flirts with his handler back at Langley, Susan (McCarthy).

Hopelessly infatuated with Fine while she deals with all the perils of office life like impromptu birthday celebrations and an infestation of vermin in the building, Susan is good at her job but dowdy and uninteresting, constantly ignored by the higher ups.

She gets her chance when Fine is killed in action and the identities of all the CIA's best field agents are compromised. Riffing on a running gag about how she's best disguised as a crazy, cat-loving spinster, her abrasive director (Allison Janney) agrees to send her in to observe and report on their quarry, socialite and arms dealer Rayna (Rose Byrne, basically playing the same role Elizabeth Debicki did in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.... and in the same city).

Of course fate intercedes and Susan is drawn into Rayna's world lest she blow her cover, and all the while the angriest, most self-aggrandising agent in the service – Rick (Statham) – has gone rogue and keeps showing up talking about how he's going to solve the case single handedly even while he goes wrong at every step.

The plot is the same fish out of water template you've seen a million times before – in fact it felt so familiar I'm sure there have been fish out of water spy comedies before. What saves it from being completely hatstand is that the script and frequent McCarthy collaborator, director Paul Feig, have agreed to give it a profane edge, the more adult tone the only thing between it and a very bland PG.

It's more an effort to further cement McCarthy's status than a movie, but thankfully she's as funny and watchable as ever.

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