It is relatively easy to imagine Jude Law as a spy. He’s good looking, athletic (as athletic as any actor really is), and knows how to point a gun and look like he means business. The same goes for Jason Statham and Morena Baccarin.
The one who doesn’t is Melissa McCarthy, which is why the idea of her being a spy makes for an interesting movie. And it is, for the most part. I just wish that there would have been a things that they would have done differently. A couple little tweaks and it would be a much better movie in my opinion.
Here’s how I would fix Spy.
Like I said in my HOW TO FIX IT: The Heat article, the vulgarity level is unnecessary. I understand the world of spies is crazy, and you need to be prepared for anything. But swearing up a storm like that isn’t spy cool. It’s high school cool. It’s I-wear-a-black-leather-jacket-and-smoke-my-mom’s-menthol-cigarettes cool.
I do realize that the director, Paul Feig, also directed The Heat, so I can’t say I’m surprised that this movie is similar in that way. I just wish I didn’t have to have the same complaint over and over again. Tone down the language, it seems like infantile.
The other thing that I would fix in this movie would be the rapid character evolution that seems to happen to McCarthy’s character.
I thought it was a stroke of genius to see a spy working with another agent that way that Law and McCarthy did. It was James Bond level awesome with technology based in reality. You could actually see these two working together and saving the world.
But what I don’t like, and what I would want to see changed, is how quickly McCarthy was suddenly a super spy as well. She was a paper pusher at the start of the movie. She had basic training, but had done nothing but help Law’s character for the last 12 years. They say that multiple times in the movie. 12 years of not running around or fighting people. But suddenly on one mission, that just keeps going on and going, she suddenly develops or unearths the super spy in herself.
I understand a lot gets lost on the editing room floor, and sometimes you just have to cut stuff out for the sake of time. But I feel that cutting anything that is critical to the story is a gigantic loss, ultimately hurting your film. Or conveniently adding things to get to the climax or move the story along will kill your movie. Suddenly giving your inexperienced spy photographic memory and fighting skills because she needs them is a bad move.
I would work a bad workout/training montage of McCarthy into the movie. Show the audience that she has a desire to be a spy, beyond the computer desk, and that she might actually have some training to do the crazy things she does later in the film. A montage like that is great for the comedy but also setting the stage for all the action that you want in a spy movie later on.
Feig and company really missed out on that one, I think. Two simple changes and this could have been a much better movie.
And that is how to fix it!