"Spy" may be stuck with a stale title, but as a frequently uproarious comedy that also takes itself seriously as a globe-trotting espionage actioner, it never loses its wily freshness. Writer-director Paul Feig's third crackerjack collaboration with Melissa McCarthy (following 2011's "Bridesmaids" and 2013's "The Heat") is immensely winning, no-holds-barred, and refreshingly feminist, made by a man who clearly adores and respects women. In Feig's eyes, anyone can be funny, but it is the various interplays between McCarthy, a delectably nasty Rose Byrne (2014's "Annie"), and disarming British import Miranda Hart (in her first Hollywood film) where the picture really gets its vivacious, mile-a-minute verve.
40-year-old Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an office-bound CIA analyst who acts as the eyes and ears of suave field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), getting him out of one sticky situation after the next as he tussles with the bad guys. When Fine is cruelly taken out by one Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), a snooty, cold-blooded, Oxford-educated Bulgarian arms dealer looking to sell her late father's small-scale nuclear warhead to terrorists, Deputy Director Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) must find someone else to send into the field to continue the investigation. With Rayna already aware of all the active agents, Susan is shocked to hear herself offering her services for the job. Arriving in Paris in the frumpy disguise of alias Carol Jenkins ("I look like someone's homophobic aunt!"), she quickly goes to work. What is supposed to be a simple track-and-report mission, however, turns into something far more dangerous as she formulates a new identity and infiltrates Rayna's circle under the auspice of being a bodyguard hired by the femme fatale's father to protect her. With rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) nipping at her heels, Susan quickly discovers that she is a far more competent and able-bodied spy than she and her colleagues could have ever imagined.
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