Movie Review: “Spy”

Starring
Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Allison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz
Director
Paul Feig

Director Paul Feig makes refreshingly nice comedies. There’s not a mean-spirited bone in his body. Not for a second does he ever poke fun at his characters. The creator behind one of the greatest and sweetest shows ever to grace television, “Freaks & Geeks,” loves all his characters – the screw-ups, the underdogs and even the bullies. That empathy has carried over to his feature film work. Although the laughs and appealing spirit of “Bridesmaids” was missing in “The Heat,” he’s quickly rebounded with “Spy,” a ferociously funny Melissa McCarthy star vehicle.

Susan Cooper (McCarthy) once dreamed of life as a CIA field agent. She imagined action, romance and intrigue. Instead of trotting the globe and saving the world, Susan performs her heroics behind a desk. The CIA analyst is super-spy Bradley Fine’s (Jude Law) eyes and ears. When the CIA’s top agents’ identities are exposed, though, Susan gets her chance to get out into the field. But putting the fate of the world into her hands doesn’t sit well with everybody – most notably, Rick Ford (Jason Statham), a spy who doesn’t believe he has any weaknesses. Ford and Cooper butt heads as she tracks down Bulgarian arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who plans on selling a miniature nuclear weapon to the highest bidder.

As expected, Feig’s script is sharp. Never does “Spy” become parody or satire. The writer/director manages to poke fun at some genre conventions – Ford is James Bond and Jason Bourne combined, with some steroids thrown in for good measure – but never to the point where they overwhelm the emotional core and broad stakes of the film. Yes, “Spy” is a comedy, but Feig makes the action scenes have a real sense of danger. The violence is surprisingly and often comically brutal. Feig not only takes advantage of the R-rating in the language department, but also with bloodshed.

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Movie Review: “Dom Hemingway”

Starring
Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke, Demian Bichir, Kerry Condon
Director
Richard Shepard

It’s been nine years since writer/director Richard Shepard burst onto the scene with the hugely entertaining black comedy “The Madator,” and with the exception of his underseen 2007 follow-up (“The Hunting Party”), he’s spent most of that time as a hired gun for various TV shows. But he’s finally back with a new movie featuring a character that could rival Jonathan Glazer’s “Sexy Beast” for the title of Most Polarizing British Gangster, which is quite the feat considering that the British crime genre is jam-packed with loud, brash and over-the-top personalities. Apart from Ben Kingsley’s Don Logan, however, none come even close to being as memorable as the title character of Shepard’s latest film, which is pretty much the only reason why it works at all.

Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) is an expert safecracker who has spent the last 12 years serving a prison sentence after refusing to rat out his boss, Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir). And now that he’s finally a free man, Dom wants what is rightfully owed to him, so he heads to Mr. Fontaine’s estate in the French countryside with his best friend Dickie (Richard E. Grant) to collect his reward for keeping his mouth shut all those years. But after a strange chain of events leaves Dom penniless mere hours after he’s gifted a small fortune, he heads back to London in an attempt to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke), who wants nothing to do with him.

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