Film review: Melissa McCarthy springs into action in ‘Spy’

Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham star in Spy.

Three stars

Spy Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham. Directed by Paul Feig. Rated R. Opens Friday.

The opening credits of Spy are an effective James Bond pastiche, complete with a moody, brassy theme song from singer Ivy Levan. But the Melissa McCarthy action-comedy subsequently goes a little too far in its Bond-imitating ways, spending two hours on a plot with as many twists as a Bond or Jason Bourne movie, most of them played straight.

The plot is the least interesting element of this plot-heavy movie, in which McCarthy’s insecure CIA analyst Susan Cooper is thrust into field work after the apparent death of her suave super-spy partner (Jude Law). McCarthy and director Paul Feig previously mixed action and comedy in 2013’s The Heat, and here they take things to another level, putting together a slick, globe-trotting espionage thriller with car chases, fight scenes and multiple villains (including Rose Byrne as a Bulgarian arms dealer).

That stuff is all just window dressing for the comedy, though, and McCarthy delivers, making Susan an entertaining and sympathetic mix of shyness and overconfidence, without going overboard as she has in some of her post-Bridesmaids roles. Jason Statham mocks his own tough-guy image to hilarious effect as a rogue agent constantly getting in Susan’s way, and British comedians Miranda Hart and Peter Serafinowicz are solid in supporting roles.

Feig (who also wrote the screenplay) gets too bogged down in his own spy-movie machinations, though, and the movie often drags, especially in a climax full of double- and triple-crosses. It’s a problem when a movie like this practically requires a diagram to follow the plot, although at least that doesn’t stop it from being funny.

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