Kurt Loder Reviews Spy and Love & Mercy

Melissa McCarthy goes 007, and Paul Dano and John Cusack take on two sides of Brian Wilson.



Spy is an old-school James Bond movie with Melissa McCarthy in the middle of it. This works—and works really well—not only because McCarthy is at the top of her push-back, wisecracking form. It also works because the writer-director, Paul Feig, has refrained from making a tired old-school spy-flick parody and has opted instead to play it straight. And so from the lush opening theme (sung by Ivy Levan in full-on Shirley Bassey mode) to the tuxedoed secret agents and cool Euro locations (Paris, Rome, Budapest), we get a sleek, gleaming tribute to the early Bonds (From Russia with Love is the central referent) with more laughs than the jokey later Bond films ever dreamed of achieving.

McCarthy's Susan Cooper is a CIA office drone stuck at Langley headquarters monitoring the tiny spy-cams and hidden microphones carried by field agents out on their glamorous assignments. Susan has a hopeless crush on one of these operatives, the suave Bradley Fine (Jude Law), who of course doesn't reciprocate her adoration. (He advises her to get some cats: "They're good company.") Bradley is currently on the trail of Bulgarian schemer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who can lead him to a preening international bad guy named De Luca (Bobby Cannavale), who's in possession of a nuclear suitcase bomb he's planning to sell to evil terrorists. After Susan remotely witnesses Bradley getting shot in the face, she heads out into the field on an assignment of her own, determined to take down Bradley's killer, nail De Luca, and retrieve the bomb.