Review by John Campbell

John Newcombe, the Australian tennis legend, reputedly insured his trademark Zapata moustache. Whatever the premium, it can’t have come anywhere near what Jason Statham would be paying for his macho stubble. What a man it makes him. Statham’s Rick Ford, the boastful but accident-prone CIA agent, is one of a handful of overdone but irresistible support characters in this broad-brush spy spoof. Director Paul Feig’s credo – ‘you can never stoop too low for a laugh’ – is reprised and, as he did in Bridesmaids (2011), he has built his story on the simple of idea of women behaving like blokes. The Heat (2013) was an improvement on its predecessor and Feig has managed to raise the bar again, but not without what has become a habitual over-reliance on foul language. I’m not in the least bit offended by it – I spray plenty of it myself – but the incessant use of the f-word, instead of colouring the script, tends to overwhelm the humour in it.

Most frustrating of all, it pays a terrible disservice to Melissa McCarthy, an outstanding comic actress whose talents are drowned in a torrent of phoney cussing. Rose Byrne, too, as the villain Rayna, sounds just plain tacky delivering her undergraduate expletives. Apart from that caveat, there is a lot of fun to be had here. The movie is cleverly plotted, fast paced and, in the sequences shot in Budapest, loaded with escapist eye-candy. Susan Cooper (McCarthy), a desk-bound CIA agent, has an impossible crush on the glamorous spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law) – in much the same way that Miss Moneypenny had eyes for Bond. When Fine is taken out of action, Susan gets the gig to replace him and prevent a nuclear device from falling into the bad guys’ hands. Though not as subtle as Johnny English, it is very funny in parts, with Statham showing that he is not above self-parody and Miranda Hart hilariously stealing a couple of scenes as Susan’s gauche off-sider Nancy. Highly recommended.

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