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Movie review: Spy

Ros Hull

Susan Cooper is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner falls off the grid and another top agent is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global crisis. imdb

Dear readers, I do not wish to sound like a radical (although I might be) but this is it. This ladies – This. Is. It.

The moment when gender bias was usurped by entertainment and female stereotypes were tossed on their ear. Not a burnt bra or a sermon in sight mind you – just a very, very funny lady becoming an action hero.

Yes, there have been other breakthrough moments. Bridesmaids was HILARIOUS. I love every moment of the Pitch Perfect films too – but those are ensemble casts.

Yes, Salt with Angelina Jolie was an excellent movie – especially given that her part was written for a man but (with very few changes) worked exceptionally well for a female actor. But she’s Angelina for Pete’s sake – she could kick your teeth in, kill you with a high heel and then smile so that you just wished she’d do it again.

We are looking at Melissa McCarthy here. Small, cushioned Melissa McCarthy. Sookie from the Gilmore Girls. The funny, yet sad, character in Identity Thief and The Heat. Carrying the film. Carrying. The. Film. She has amazing support actors around her – funny, charming, over-the-top support actors but she is the headline act. It is a very funny movie but what lifts this film above the rest is the good, solid story at its core. It is equal to most James Bond plots and better than some.

007 is referenced, even paid homage, in the opening credit sequence. It is unashamedly Bond-esque, even to the diva theme song (the whole soundtrack is big, chunky and well produced … just like a Bond film) and in the animation. Jude Law looks delectable as Fine, Bradley Fine, but we learn that the flea in his ear, the person who does most of his thinking for him, is far more interesting and, as the film progresses, more capable than him.

Stereotypes are addressed and made great fun of, from Miranda (Chummy in Call the Midwife) Hart making a delicious meal of Susan’s best friend and backup to Susan dealing with catlady, homophobic aunt and Midwest homemaker disguises on her way to fully fledged spydom. Rose Byrne is fabulous, darling, as the Eastern bloc accented baddie and Morena Baccarin’s character is suitably insufferable. Again, what makes this stand out is that every one of these characters would fit into a Bourne film, or Mission Impossible – if played by a man.

However, as director Paul Feig says:

“I enjoy working with and empowering women, and was intrigued by the idea of creating a female trio of protagonist, sidekick and adversary”.

The scenery is great, the plot is twisty, the chases risk-filled and the gadgets are another great source of giggles, just as they should be in a Bond film.

The blokes are very good too – especially Peter Serafinowicz (and that’s the short version of his name) as an Italian assistant spy (or is he?). Jason Statham is great as the hardest man you have ever met in the CIA. He outcrazies every stereotype but make sure you listen to his diatribes. It is fun to spot unlikely yet actual action film plot references.

Women working with, betraying and / or killing other women. It passes the Bechdel test, the funnybone test, the husband watching a ‘chick flick’ test and the very basic Hitchcock test (I did not notice my butt or any discomfort the whole time). And, like the best films, make sure you stay for the post credits sequence.

Loved it.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

  • MST

    Great wrap Ros – saw it today – and my take is just that

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