"I drove a car. Off a freeway. On top of a train. While on fire. Not the car - *I* was on fire."
Spy third time lucky of the Melissa McCarthy/Paul Fieg pairing after Bridesmaids and The Heat, and we see the formidable comedy actor/director duo take no prisoners in the spy genre.Spy thrusts McCarthy’s deskbound secret agent into the field to investigate the death of another agent at the hands of Rose Byrne’s spy-killing femme fatale. The only face unknown to the criminal underworld, McCarthy dons various guises to follow the killer and get clues as to the whereabouts of a suitcase nuke, much to the chagrin of Jason Statham’s more old-school gung-ho agent, who thinks she’s far from up for the task. Feig’s spy dalliance is a superior action comedy, taking us through all the standard espionage genre tropes – from the ridiculous gadgets to the over-the-top chases – lovingly poking fun along the way, whilst throwing razor sharp lines at you at high velocity. The comedy is often of the shotgun variety – and in these moments, whilst not everything hits, many will still get a chuckle. There are several superior lines, throwaway quips and grandstanding, hilarious monologues – from one character in particular – which will likely have you laughing out loud.Similarly, whilst the epic runtime leaves the film almost outstaying its welcome (2 hours is a long haul for a comedy; 10 minutes longer for the extended cut, and too many penis jokes push that inferior version into crude Farrelly territory) it’s hard to fault the majority of the individual scenes, with the three main leads – McCarthy, Byrne and Statham – proving an unstoppable comic trio. McCarthy engages as her trademark beleaguered, hapless victim, whilst Byrne tries to keep a straight face as the villainous foil. It’s Statham, though, who arguably steals the show and exhibits not only great comic timing but fantastic chemistry opposite McCarthy, repeatedly turning up to ‘help/interfere/mess up’ the operations and rant inanely about all of the death-defying escapades he’s survived: Nothing kills me. I’m immune to 179 different types of poison. I know because I ingested them all at once when I was deep undercover in an underground poison-ingesting crime ring.
Feig's slick, precision-engineered action-comedy looks amazing.
Presenting the film in its original theatrical aspect ratio format of 2.40:1 widescreen, the 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation is a glossy, rich and largely flawless affair that promotes immaculate picture quality under almost all conditions, rendering finely tuned over/under-cranked stylisation, and light and dark, and indoor and outdoor sequences with seemingly universal near-perfect attention to detail. Skin textures, McCarthy's various wigs and different looks, the vehicles and exotic locales, the stunts and the set-pieces, there's almost nothing to fault in lapping up what amounts to a surprising visual treat. Spy looks simply stunning with its Arri Alexa-shot cinematography, handling the the darkest scenes perhaps most impressively, although not as effortlessly as the rest of the piece, with, for example, that Statham monologue (above) proving just how capable the equipment is whilst, conversely, some of the latter dungeon shots struggle to fully avoid crush. Overall though, with a natural, warm palette and outstanding black levels throughout the rest of the piece, and without any other signs of digital issues, this is a near-perfect presentation, and certainly makes for commendable demo material.
The accompanying soundtrack is engaging and energetic; in-line with the spy spectacle style the comedy trades in.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is a fabulous affair, matching up to its visual counterpart with punchy and precise sound design which makes impressive use of the array, whilst bringing the LFE channel in for a warm undercurrent of solid support. Whip-smart dialogue gets keen presentation, remaining clear and coherent throughout, dominating the front and center channels where appropriate. Effects are well-observed, promoting explosions, gunshots, speedboats, car chases, helicopters and fun fisticuffs impressively, whilst a strong, typically Bond-ish score (and opening title sequence song) provides further apt accompaniment. Demo quality, it completes the technical superiority of the disc.
Two cuts of the film and a bounty of extra features will leave you plenty entertained.
Beyond the two cuts of the film we get a strong extras selection, headlined by "The Filmmakers Tell You How Spy Was Made as You Watch the Film! AKA The Commentary Track", which has Feig and his crew talk about the production, the technical aspects of the shoot, and the fun had on set. How Spy Was Made is a multi-part 50-minute making-of split into Paul Feig: Alt P; Indecent Proposals from the Cast; Changing Statham; Stuntarama; In Da Klub; Susan’s Disguises; Odd Couple on Set; and No Go Gadgets, with that last section done in-character.
There’s a whopping 35 minutes of Deleted and Alternate Scenes, as well as a further 10 minutes worth of Gag Reel; 9 minutes with the Director getting various funny takes out of his cast; 8 minutes looking at the funnier side to the characters; 5 minutes of Rose Byrne unable to keep a straight face; 60 seconds of alternate deaths for Anton’s character; ninety seconds of rat chaos back in the office; 2 minutes with the ‘frisky hands’ scenes; 2 minutes of line fluffs; and 2 minutes of animal-inspired chaos. There are also two more segments, totalling another 16 minutes, of further improv. Despite all of the this, the crown jewel has to be the three-and-a-half minute improv. reel for Jason Statham’s Rick Ford. It’ll only make you want to watch the film again.
Spy promises to be one of the funniest film's you'll see this year, and it is.
This Region Free release of Spy boasts excellent demo video and audio as well as what feels like hours of extra features, including some classic ad-libs for some of the funniest sequences. I'm sure there are plenty who may not get on board with this particular humour - your affinity for Bridesmaids and The Heat may give you some indication - however those who do will not only find it a consistently entertaining, constantly amusing outing, but also hopefully hit those laugh-out-loud moments which are all too rare there days. And, at the end of the day, it's worth watching for Statham alone. I hope they make a sequel - or even a franchise. Highly recommended.
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