TL;DR – It is a film that does not know if it wants to be a PG family action film, or an R raunchy exercise, and ends up being neither
Score – 2 out 5 Stars
In the end, my feeling on this film are quite mixed, some aspects of it really worked and others just really didn’t. I would describe this movie as a collage, where the writer/director Paul Feig has taken ideas from a number of movies and melded it all together into this film, and not always successfully. To explain what I mean, I going to break down the different components of the film, and yes this is about to get spoilery (You have been warned).
Firstly the Cast. The casting of this film is a mixed bag, some of it really works and others just falls flat (hopefully you have picked up on this running motif in the review). Generally I think the female leads are actually one of the best bits of this film, you have Susan Copper (McCarthy) as unlikely secret agent, Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) a new mob boss out for revenge, but out of her depth, Nancy (Hart) Susan’s friend and fellow analyst and Elane (Janney) as the CIA Boss (a cross between her CJ Craig and Ms. Perky characters).
I honestly really liked McCarthy in this film as she is stepping away from the roles that she has to be pigeonholed in since the Bridesmaids, her character starts off a bit one note but as the movie progresses she creates a really interesting character, especially when things change up about half way through. McCarthy also showed some really good action beats throughout the film which was quite surprising. Byrne plays this blustering, ruthless but yet very naive mob boss revenging the death of her father sort of, or just trying to of load a nuke, maybe, her motivations are a bit unclear. Hart shows her good comic timing and great use of physical presence in her role as the best friend and when all three of these charterers are working together towards the end it is a real treat.
Then we have the guys, Bradly Fine (Law) the ‘I’m a British spy’, so you know I am a Bond motif, and Rick Ford (Statham) the parody of Jason Statham. Honestly, these gentlemen are only in the movie to progress the plot through their own stupidity (most of the time) and so they can have some big names appear on the credits. Law gets killed off in the first 10 minutes of the film (no shocks that he re-appears as a bad guy at the end, and no shocks that he wasn’t really a bad guy). Statham, playing a parody of Statham is something that seems funny on paper and is amusing for about 15 minutes, but then it sticks around from the whole film and you end and you start to cringe every time you see him reappear.
As far as the story goes, I would say the film is serviceable for what it is trying to do but then you have seen it all before. All the agents are compromised so we need to send out the analyst, Get Smart, the Bond surrogate is actually a self-centered narcissist (just about every Bond parody ever), main billed character dies in the first 10 minute to shock audience, only to reappear as a bad guy (like literally the plot of Golden Eye).
The action is fine, but the one thing I have to call out is these weird insert shots the director used. All the action in this film is basically the usual PG/M action beets, interesting but not graphic enough to boost the film out of prime rating bracket. But then there are these really graphic insert shots, which have been added in. You get the feeling that they couldn’t decide what rating they wanted the film to be so the filmed it in a way that they could cut these bits out easily, or conversely, someone at the studio said it was not raunchy enough so they added them in in post. This creates a real dissonance in the tone of the film, which is funny the first time, but loses its appeal and just gets plain weird as the film goes on.
Also, while I am sure there is a line somewhere in the credits that go something like this “no money was given from cigarette companies for promotion consideration in this film”, and I am not saying that I think that is a lie, what I will say is that cigarette companies would be very happy with parts of this film.
In the end, I just can’t recommend this film, even though there were some things here that I really liked. If you want to watch a Bond parody done well, watch Kingman (see review), if you want to go watch a good action flick out in the movies, go watch Mad Max (see review) , if you want to watch a good comedy, go see Pitch Perfect 2 (see review).
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed By – Paul Feig
Written By – Paul Feig
Staring – Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Allison Janney & Jude Law
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Ireland: 15A; NZ: R16; UK: 15; USA: R