Right, as always, there will be spoilers to some degree, so don’t lose your cool if you read something that ruins your enjoyment of the film, it’s not the new Star Wars after all.
tl;dr is provided at the end as I do have a tendency to waffle!
Lets start with the poster.
Take a look at that up there, does that instill confidence in you that this is going to be a good movie? It didn’t for me, it looks like it should be Dustin Hoffman in the middle in some twee 80’s film like Tootsie, its a scene we’ve seen a thousand times and Melissa McCarthy doing what appears to be an old lady turn had me thinking of the car crash that was Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, in fact, everything about this film put me off.
The cast: I’ve never watched a single film with Melissa McCarthy in due to the trailers and how irritating she seems in them, likewise, Miranda Hart? Really? I know people love her or hate her, I fall firmly in the latter, I can’t stand her abysmal sit-com, the only thing she’s half decent in is Call the Midwife and that’s because it’s a drama and not written by her. Jason Statham in a comedy? the guy can barely act as Jason Statham, let alone pull of comedic timing or convincing character development. Jude Law is similarly two dimensional in most films and I struggle to think of a single, stand-out film of his, except for maybe Don Hemingway, but even then most of the charm was provided by Richard E Grant and Laws performance was more confusing and caricature like than an example of exemplary acting.
The premise seemed hackneyed, unoriginal and exactly the kind of dumb film that keeps Adam Sandler in our lives, I was expecting it to be more Mr Bean than Austin Powers.
Then we have the trailer.
This epitomises everything I was fearing. It’s unoriginal, slapstick, dumb, self effacing, cringeworthy and predictable.
The basics of the plot are that a criminal mastermind has acquired a nuclear device and intends on selling it to some nasty terrorists, this evil doer somehow knows every CIA agent in the field so they have to send McCarthys character after the miscreant as she is an unknown analyst who’s spent 10 years in the basement at Langley, being Jude Laws guide on all his missions, watching and listening, guiding him and helping him survive utilising the CIAs vast network of computers and satellites etc etc. Hilarity ensues.
I had nothing better to do and I wanted to do a film review for the blog so I decided I’d go see it, imagining I’d end up sleeping through most of it, just like I did with the bore-fest Spooks.
The film starts off exactly as I’d expected unfortunately, With Jude Law and his wobbly american accent racing through a criminal’s palatial villa, shooting baddies and being guided by McCarthy’ Analyst character, fawning over him telling him how great he is, the opening credits were very, very Bond like which was actually done very well and a nice surprise, but that wasn’t the only surprise.
What I wasn’t expecting was a film with a really strong female lead, the self deprecating aspect of McCarthys character isn’t as central to the film as the trailer suggests and where it does come into the plot it serves as a springboard for her to be genuinely very funny and to showcase what is clearly her ability to adlib in the vein of Will Ferrell.
The main protagonist is also female, as is the head of the CIA and what you expect to be a spy movie with charming, heroic spies Statham and Law being offset by a bumbling, clown like McCarthy turns into something that feels fresh and original and very different from what you thought you were going to see.
Statham’s character turns out to be a condensed caricature of the role he normally plays, he’s angry, mad and insanely over confident claiming to have survived the most outlandish situations and it works really well, he’s not trying to be funny, but the script writing is so good that he’s laugh out loud funny in places due to the preposterousness of his character.
Jude Law is Jude law, his accent is awful but he fits the part well and some of the scenes between him and McCarthy do show some tenderness and well, it’s Jude Law, all the ladies love Jude Law!
Miranda actually hits the right balance between being incompetent, awestruck, excited and likeable in a way I’d not thought possible, she wasn’t too cringeworthy and didn’t seem to have been shoehorned in just because the American audience likes a Downton Accent and Call the Midwife is currently huge on BBC America, she has her place in this film and fills it perfectly.
Melissa McCarthy opened my eyes, I shouldn’t have been so dismissive of her or this film, it was a well conceived and well written piece with a few twists that, though obvious, didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film for being so. McCarthys character, though starting off appearing to be a bad choice for field work, is actually a trained agent and though she’s limited by her physicality, she is actually genuinely bad-ass and when she decides to drop the shitty field identities she’s been foisted with by the agency, she comes into her own both verbally and physically, there’s a fascination in watching the dumpy Dawn French doppleganger convincingly beating the living crap out of a room of thugs that is going to stay with me for some time!
Despite myself I really enjoyed this film, it was funny with some great and quotable dialogue and was genuinely refreshing to see a film where all the strength was with the females, it parodies all the bond style films without being a parody and when it gets a sequel, as it inevitably will, I’ll be there expecting more of the same.
tl;dr: I thought it was going to be shit, it wasn’t!