Four out of five stars
"Spy" is the Melissa McCarthy movie I’ve been waiting for. She’s been solid, if not exceptional, in her previous collaborations with writer-director Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids," "The Heat") but for the first time, McCarthy’s the star of his show, and she truly shines. Let’s face it: "Identity Thief" was annoying and "Tammy" wasn’t good, despite the latter being co-written by McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed it. But in "Spy," McCarthy is at her best with the one person who knows exactly how to utilize her vast skill set.
Some of "Spy’s" best humor arises from Susan’s relationship with Jason Statham’s Rick Ford, a super-macho spy who wants no part of the plan to send Susan to do what he believes is his job. He’s a clever metaphor for every male braggart who’s ever belittled a woman to overcompensate for his own ineptitude. A household name among action-movie fans, Statham here displays comedic timing as deadly as his martial arts skills. Rick’s fond of rattling off the ridiculously dangerous, over-the-top things he’s done on different missions and, in every instance, Statham’s delivery is perfect. If this movie does as well as I think it will, people may be quoting him for years to come. Honorable mentions, as well, to Rose Byrne as Boyanov, and to Miranda Hart, who plays Nancy, Susan’s best friend and fellow basement analyst.
What’s most notable about "Spy," silly as some of its antics may be, is that McCarthy’s found the perfect vehicle for her style of comedy. She could well become the face of the first successful spy film franchise headed by a woman, and deservedly so. McCarthy isn’t defying conventions here -- she’s destroying them.