There is nothing wrong with girl power. Especially when it takes on the classic male dominated espionage action-thriller genre and gives it more than just a poke but a damn good hiding. Yes, this is Melissa McCarthy who has left behind the basement benches (and previous supporting roles) for some front line action as the boss lady.
But it certainly doesn’t start out that way. Susan Cooper (McCarthy) has the least glamorous CIA position you could imagine: a desk job in a bat and rodent infested basement staring at a screen. She is the savvy voice of intelligence and surveillance for Bradley Fine (Jude Law) who is a ‘real’ agent out on a mission and the voice in his ear that warns him of approaching thugs who might want to him dead. Easy-peasy. But things change dramatically when during a mission to recover a rogue nuke Law appears to have fallen victim to the evil clutches of the sexy but unforgiving Rayna (Rose Byrne). The only other possible CIA agents appear to be compromised and so McCarthy is sent (albeit unwillingly by her superior leader) into the field to track and report.
And that’s where the fun starts. Our McCarthy has no yellow jumpsuit or sleek black mask instead its haemorrhoid wipes, stool softeners and anti-fungal toe spray that form her front line of defense. Her passport photos are an absolute scream and her armoury comes equipped with a cat t-shirt. As she tells her colleague Nancy (the delightfully scatter brained Miranda Hart) “I look like somebody’s homophobic aunt”. But despite looking like a frumpy American tourist from the mid-west McCarthy takes on Paris, Rome and Budapest. But she’s not alone with a little help from a rather overly attentive Italian colleague Aldo (British actor Peter Serafinowicz) they prove that it is not only possible but essential to take trip through the streets of Rome at reckless speeds while simultaneously indulging in a high velocity groping session. But desperate to take revenge on the woman is responsible for the death of Bradley Fine (even if he gave her jewellery that looked like a cupcake caught by a basilisk) McCarthy ignores orders from the top and also her colleagues (a hard-core potty mouthed Jason Statham who seems to make continuous bumbling attempts to take over) to finish her mission – at whatever the cost.
In fact this proves to be quite an expensive trip because as McCarthy gains a brand new wardrobe (which despite attracting the attention of the local boys continues to be the persistent butt of Byrne’s jokes) she develops a razor tongue that slices through the demeanour of ‘Swedish mutha f*kers’ and indeed anyone else who dare stand in her way as she delves deeper into this double-crossing double agent double entendre riddled rollercoaster.
Paul Feig is utterly brilliant – both as a writer and director. The script is crammed with a punchy one-liners and verbal zingers that distract long enough to let you have a hugely visceral response to the amount of organ-crunching-skin dissolving-blood-smattering routines that continue to surprise. Brazen and lewd this Bond style spoof goes much further than the silliness of an Austin power’s giddy ride it – catapults its audience across international locations with some fabulous camerawork thanks to d.p Robert Yeoman and a fantastic production design (Jefferson sage) which is detailed, elaborate and satisfying. Better yet it refuses to acquiesce to traditional narratives.
Delightful, hilarious and thankfully ever so smart this is definitely a film that heralds a new era of comedy-action hybrids that have all the style of the classic Bond films and the gags of the Coen brothers. Definitely a date night that he boys will love so do take them ladies, it’s guaranteed to be a grand time.