Friday, July 24, 2015

"Spy" - the importance of being an underdog.

Last week I managed to see the movie 'Spy' that stars Melissa McCarthy. I had heard good things about the film, so I thought that there's no way that I would be disappointed. At the very least, I would be mildly entertained by it.

One of the reasons that I had good vibes about the movie is because it was obvious that Melissa McCarthy's character was going to be likable. Looking like that (the picture above), very few would think that she's a totally awful and unrelatable character.

I also looked forward to watching  the movie because Melissa McCarthy is a talented actress. She's one of the very few current actors in the business who has the chops to be both dramatic and funny when it's required. She's a true comedienne, if you ask me.

Nevertheless, in 'Spy' McCarthy plays a desk agent who's work consists of helping 'real' agents on their dangerous missions. She's an overweight, overworking, underappreciated single woman, without whom things would fall apart at the agency. 

Based on those qualities, it's hard not to like her. She doesn't complain, she doesn't act like a bitch, she doesn't constantly drop f-bombs everywhere and she doesn't think she's better than others. She's pretty much the perfect character.

In any case, the film gets going (inciting incident) when the agency's best spy - her partner and her crush - dies.  She sees the death through the agent's body-cam - which makes the moment genuinely heartbreaking. Now she's even more of a relatable character.

Right after that it turns out that the agent's killer has the list of all the field agents and that the agency needs some fresh blood quickly. Naturally she feels that its her job to step up to the plate. Nobody else could be hired on a short notice like that. 

This is when the movie is at its best. Seeing how she is prepared for her role and when some others in the agency are doubting her. It's good stuff when she bonds with her female side-kick desk worker (another underdog in the film).

Then she's assigned for her first ever on-location job in Europe - nothing that is supposed to be too difficult for her. She's only allowed to track the bad guy and not to engage in anything more than that. She's not qualified to be a 'real' agent.

This is relatable stuff, but it gets even better when she manages to save the life of a gung-ho agent (Jason Statham) who thinks that McCarthy's agent is nothing more than a hindrance. This is when I was thinking about recommending this movie to all my friends.

Unfortunately, what happens shortly after is when things start to go wrong with the movie. For some reason - I think we had reached the 45-50 minute mark - the writers thought that our underdog hero didn't have to be a likable underdog anymore.

So what happens next is that McCarthy's personality pretty much does a whole 180° turn. Instead of being a person that you were able to root for, her character becomes a motor mouthed killer machine (!)  that can't stop dropping f-bombs.

This was such an awful turn for the movie. That is that for the rest of the movie, the original premise of the film is pretty much dropped and all we get is action, contrived situations and more foul language that doesn't make sense.

This was something that I did not expect to happen at all. Why did they do that? Considering that the movie was so highly rated by most of the critics and that it was directed by Paul Feig (Freaks & Geeks), I couldn't believe my eyes.

What was so wrong with the character being inherently likable? What was wrong with someone being an underdog? What were the writers of the movie thinking? I suppose they just ran out of good ideas or something.

The fact that the film as a whole turned out to be a disappointment is so unfortunate. That is especially because the first half of the movie was really well made. It made you feel for the characters and it had a good amount of funny moments too.

At the same time, the second half is what sinks it. The writers forgot what made the characters likable. They ran out of creativity and took the easy way out. It's a shame, because 'Spy' had the ingredients to be a good film, but it just isn't one.

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