Los Angeles and San Francisco – WE ARE DOOMED!! Serious note, I’m not really even sure what to say about this film.
From the moment this film opens with a scene they clearly scooped from the opening sequence of JAWS with dramatic music and a girl – in this one driving a car mindlessly distracted, checking her phone etc..with cars driving narrowly at her on Mulholland Dr. when suddenly BAM..over the cliff she goes AND on que – dramatic rescue, you pretty much get exactly what you need to know about where the rest of the film is headed.
The film and all it’s characters run the all too familiar ball-game gamut of disaster films. “Ray Gaines”(Dewayne Johnson) is a helicopter pilot with the LA Fire and Rescue Dept. “Emma” (Carla Gugino) his soon to be ex-wife whom is now with new boyfriend, wealthy developer “Daniel Riddick” (Ioan Gruffudd) who proves himself to be an untrustworthy one at that when he ditches Ray & Emma’s daughter “Blake” (Alexandra Daddario) after the quake hits to save himself while in San Francisco.
In the meantime Paul Giamatti as Cal Tech Earthquake specialist “Lawrence”, his staff and never flinching reporter “Serena” (Archie Panjabi) found they have just learned they can predict earthquakes..and within moments of being able to do so guess what happens..SURPRISE!! A super earthquake is upon them at Hoover Dam where they didn’t even know fault lines existed. As they of course predict more, within mere minutes Los Angeles is coming apart at the seams and next on the list is San Francisco.
Somehow we are to just not notice or overlook the fact that Ray is supposed to be going to Hoover Dam to help the rescue efforts there but as he calmly watches the destruction ensue from his helicopter he calls Emma who is having lunch with his sister “Susan” in a little cameo from Kylie Minogue here, its like that mission never existed as he rushes to rescue her from the top of a LA high-rise that is crumbling. Best part yet, we never hear him mention a thing about his sis who’s fell off the DTLA high-rise. what? clearly no brotherly love there. Another fun fact is that not one single one of these characters look like they could be even slightly related is just another fact that we must laughably ignore while watching this trainwreck film.
And since every film now has to have a token Brit in it, even though it’s a disaster pic about earthquakes in the Golden State of California, we throw in our British tourist on a job interview “Ben” (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) as a love interest for Blake and his little brother “Ollie” (Art Parkinson) and you’ve got your human drama all neatly summed up for you in a nice little square package once the fault line starts a rocking.
I’d be lying if I said some of the action sequences weren’t a bit fun, and also very silly as there were points I couldn’t stop laughing yet I don’t think I was actually supposed to. I mean the film was so spectacularly bad in ways that it was..well good. And most will know exactly what I mean by that.
There is a small sub-plot about a dying daughter/sister which I believe was thrown in to make it reasonable to the audience of first off why Ray went to get Emma before anyone else and how both are so hell-bent on rescuing Blake.
But the real star of this disaster upon disaster pic is the earthquake itself and the ensuing tsunami – and they don’t seem to stop coming until SFO & LA are completely bulldozed down and there is nothing left of either city or our brains for that matter. The end fact is while having lived through a few of the big quakes here and being petrified myself of them, this film with it’s complete lack of feeling, barely scares me into making another earthquake kit.
With the release of “SPY”, 20th Century Fox is putting out it’s second spy genre film of 2k15 with the first being the hugely entertaining ‘Kingsman:The Secret Service‘. But Melissa McCarthy’s latest jaunt into comedy had me contemplating if it was just going to be another one where she wears out her welcome by playing the same character-type once again. I’m pleased to report this is not the case and you will find yourself laughing your way through this one. Not only because of the fact that McCarthy is more or less doing character assassinations on most of those stereo-typed characters of her past, but it’s with a strong supporting, hugely funny and entertaining cast which really pulls this film all together.
McCarthy plays “Susan Cooper”, a deskbound CIA analyst acting as the eyes and ears for expertly named-and-trained field agent, “Bradley Fine” charmingly done here by Jude Law, with whom she is clearly head over heels for, this fact being advantageous for him. When Fine goes missing and the agency is compromised, CIA spy-team leader “Elaine Crocker” (Allison Janney) gives the unassuming Susan a shot at her first field mission to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer. Needless to say, things do not go as planned. Not only does she have to deal with exotic uber-vixen “Raina Boyanov” (Rose Byrne) who has a hilariously homicidal lack of tolerance towards her own henchmen, but her own fellow on-the-outs disgruntled agent “Rick Ford” (Jason Statham) who is essentially part Rambo, part bumbling Inspector Clouseau.
Every scene between McCarthy and Byrne sparkles and both play their roles spot on, particularly when they are both aggressors. Not content to be mere supporting actresses, both Byrne & Janney have some of the funniest lines in the movie. The jokes come so thick and fast that you’re likely to miss some of them simply because they’re drowned out by your own laughter along with the audiences. Statham is hilarious and is one of the reasons I wanted to see this film so much as seeing him skewer his tough-man persona, swearing poetically and prat-falling left and right in the most unpredictable spots is just one of SPY’s fun delights. My only beef with his part is I wanted more. Spy would not be funny if it were simply Susan/McCarthy bumbling from one scenario to another. It helps that her characters here have vulnerabilities; it works because McCarthy is adaptable to every situation she finds herself in and is able to hit all her marks without a miss. There’s a sense of witnessing a woman empowered and it’s a hoot to see McCarthy given the space she deserves here. The other is watching Rose Byrne vamping it up as Rayna Boyanov, along with Miranda Hart, who is a constant surprise as Susan’s coworker “Nancy“. And then we have 50 Cent, as himself, having a grand old time being, yes, dare we say it, a tad bit funny..
Director Paul Feig has gathered a game cast here who are more than committed to the faintly ridiculous material they’ve been given which will make Spy likely to be one of the funnier films of the year. There are films with stronger action sequences, but that won’t be your concern when watching as again, you’ll probably be to busy laughing.
Screening at AMC Century City 15, Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 – courtesy of 20th Century Fox & LAFTV “SPY” – Opening nationwide Friday, June 5th, 2015
RATINGS SCALE: A = OSCAR-WORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE; C = AVERAGE; D = NOT RECOMMENDED; F = SKIP IT ENTIRELY (+ OR – GIVES IT AN EDGE UP OR DOWN)