Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency's most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer (Rose Byrne), and prevent a global disaster.
Review by Louise Keller:
The laughs come flying every which way - conceptually, visually and through a smart and hilarious script that ambushes us with off the wall humour as it canvasses the sense of the ridiculous. It's spoof, comedy and action all bundled together in one delicious entertainment package helmed by Bridesmaid's Paul Feig, its splendid cast lassoed together by Melissa McCarthy in her best role yet.
In the early scenes, the credentials of McCarthy's helpful CIA desk jockey Susan Cooper are quickly established, as the sharp, highly competent eyes and ears to Jude Law's suave Bond-stereotype on assignment in Bugaria (through earpiece and hidden camera). There's a playful flirtation between the two as the self-important, immaculately groomed, handsome Bradley Fine (Law), pursues the location of a missing nuke. The fact that the CIA offices are in the midst of a rodent infestation offers great visuals: bats and rats surround Susan at her desk, as she alerts Fine to imminent danger through the high tech surveillance equipment. Tall, British actress Miranda Hart, as Susan's impressionable colleague Nancy, is a hoot, especially in the later scenes when distractions are required.
I laughed at the spoof on the Bond gadgets as Susan is inducted as a field agent and given weaponry designed to match her new 'inconspicuous' frumpy identity: constipation pills, hemorrhoid treatment and anti-fungal spray. Her mission? To track and report the whereabouts of dangerous Bulgarian arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) whose intention is to sell the nuke to slippery terrorist, Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale, charismatic). The rationale is that unlike the other CIA agents, her face is unknown and she can infiltrate undetected.
Byrne's light comic touch is a great asset - here she is scrumptious as the spoilt-brat villainess bombshell, with a wardrobe (and hair) to die for. 'Premium economy equates to a pen for dirty animal,' she quips. Whether dressed to the nines or letting her mouth fly with obscenities, Byrne lack of self consciousness is greatly appealing.
Taking exception to Susan's mission is Jason Statham's CIA agent Richard Ford, whose never-ending rants in praise of his (unlikely) achievements (including being immune to 169 poisons) is highly amusing. Stealing every scene in which he appears, Statham mercilessly sends up his tough guy persona. Together, he and McCarthy are the dynamite. Look out for Peter Serafinowicz as the frisky Italian charmer Aldo who plays with Susan's affections (and gropes at the most inopportune times).
The action takes Susan from Paris to Rome and Budapest, where the climactic scenes play out at Lake Balaton. All the while, McCarthy morphs from her initially downtrodden persona to a heroic protagonist, mentally and physically adapting to every situation with ballast. Whether she is defending herself in a ferocious girl-fight with saucepans and baguette in the kitchen, thinking on her feet and switching sides or spewing out a torrent of expletives, it is all a part of the complete characterization that Feig has created and that McCarthy delivers with an innate sweetness and the best intentions. Spying has never been so much fun.
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CAST: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Miranda Hart
PRODUCER: Peter Chernin, Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson, Jenno Topping
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
SCRIPT: Paul Feig
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert D. Yeoman
EDITOR: Not credited
MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jefferson Sage
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 21, 2015