I had to admit that in the opening scenes of “Spy,” I felt a strong sense of deja vu. Like Reese Witherspoon in “Hot Pursuit,” Melissa McCarthy plays an under-employed, unappreciated law enforcement agent (their characters even share a surname), who, not without difficulty, manages to make the transition to actually going out in the field and taking down the bad guys firsthand. Although she is trained as a CIA agent, Melissa only gets a chance to go undercover when her partner (Jude Law) is killed, and she must track down a “terrorist” who has a bomb and is not afraid to use it. Although she starts the movie with a hopeless crush on Jude, eventually, she earns the respect of her boss by completing her mission and comes to value sisterhood more, although there are hints that she may have a more active love life in the future.
Melissa’s first task is to keep the daughter of a mob boss (Rose Byrne) from being roofied, only Rose repays her by trying to drug and kill her, kicking off the shifting alliances until the end. Melissa must also perform her job undercover, which requires her to wear many hideous wigs and assume identities of the pathetic single woman stereotype (telemarketer, cat lady, etc.). She also gets to ride a moped, fend off an angry Rose wielding a knife, armed with only a frying pan, navigate a private jet on the spur of the moment, and dangle off a helicopter suspended midair in order to diffuse a bomb, and looks adorable doing it (despite the wigs), so I would say that she more than earns her paycheck.
Another major role is played by Jason Statham, an agent who tags along after Melissa, disgruntled at having to share the field with a “secretary,” and he is hilarious, as he’s constantly mentioning all the danger and dire escapes he’s had previously. (His exploits include having supposedly successfully impersonated Barack Obama when testifying before Congress, all of which Melissa is smart enough to take with a whole shaker of salt.) Miranda Hart is also amusing as Melissa’s colleague and friend, who eventually gets to go out into the field herself and even use a gun. There’s also a cameo by 50 Cent. The movie relies a little too heavily on having a previously unseen third party arrive in the nick of time to save the good guy, but is still very funny.
“Spy” features lots of profanity heavy dialogue and a shot of a penis (really), as Melissa starts the movie all prim and objecting to others’ language and then starts cursing like a sailor about a quarter of the way through. I must be getting old because I found myself wondering if “Spy” needed quite so many swears, but overall, there’s no more here than there are in “The Heat.”Still I wouldn’t mind going to see a sequel.