spy

Review: Spy

Jun 05 // Matthew Razak
SpyDirector: Paul FeigRated: RRelease Date: June 5, 2016 The amount of ways that Spy could have gone horribly, horribly wrong are pretty high. It's a spy movie parody featuring an overweight woman full of crass humor. If this had come out with a different director we'd be looking at an insulting, pandering piece of comedic trash, but instead Feig makes Spy a clever and resoundingly unique experience capitalizing on McCarthy's comedic skills and charm.  McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA agent who spends her time behind the desk talking into Bradley Fine's (Jude Law) earpiece as he goes on daring and dramatic missions. When Bradley is killed, however, Susan must go out into the field to hunt down Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) and take revenge. Throw in a fantastically comical Jason Statham as a rogue CIA agent out for revenge, and you've got an amazing mix of comedic actors hamming it up while still offering a surprising amount of competent (and graphic) action sequences.  What Spy does best is completely invert what it "should" be doing. A cursory glance at the film would make you think it's a bland spy film parody, but Spy isn't a parody as much as it is a comedic spy film. Instead of mocking conventions with bad site gags and an inept spy as most spy parodies do it plays into them and then finds its comedy elsewhere. Instead of offering up tepid action sequences and fights it goes full bore as if it were actually an action movie. There are some sequences here that the steadily worsening Michael Bay could take some lessons from, especially since the film earns a hard R through violence. It's still the comedy that sells, and Spy's comedy just works. There are fat jokes, but they aren't at the expense of McCarthy. The humor isn't driven by her being a fish out of water as a spy, but instead through actual clever comedy. Feig and McCarthy have some of the best timing together and it shows throughout the movie, even in the beginning when things start off a bit slow. Once the obligatory gadget collecting scene rolls in you won't be able to stop laughing. Once Jason Statham starts rattling off his nigh-impossible spy missions you'll be on the floor. Spy also offers a refreshingly female driven narrative for a genre that is obviously male obsessed. This should probably be expected from Feig, but the director once again delivers. In another instance of eschewing the norm Peggy doesn't rely on any man to save her at any time. This doesn't mean that the film ignores sex jokes or inappropriate behavior, but instead celebrates it as comedic. One of the things Feig's comedies do best is tow the line between inappropriate and hilarious, something another film opening this weekend could have learned from.  You probably weren't expecting such a glowing review of the film. McCarthy has felt tired in her last outings and the advertising for this one did nothing to make one think it was something special. Turns out the ads can be wrong and that McCarthy still has plenty of juice in her tank... as long as she's taking on good projects.  
Spy photo
Like a good spy, you don't see it coming
Over the past few years I've grown increasingly tired of Melissa McCarthy's shtick. I figured this was because I was tired of her, but it turns out she's just been making mediocre movies. Her shtick still works when someone i...

UNCLE Trailer photo
UNCLE Trailer

First The Man from U.N.C.L.E. trailer is F.U.N.


Say uncle.
Feb 13
// Nick Valdez
Now here's a trailer our Matthew Razak, Bond aficionado and baby daddy, will definitely get a kick out of. When Guy Ritchie's attached to a project, such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. adaptation of a 1960s spy TV show, you know...
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First trailer for Spy brings Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig back again


Limp-dicked unicorn is gonna be my new go to
Jan 13
// Matthew Razak
Melissa McCarth and Paul Feig are like bestest comedy buddies, and their efforts turn out pretty solid as Bridesmaids and The Heat (Nick was too harsh) can attest to. The pair are pairing up again for a spy sp...
No more Jack Ryan photo
No more Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan sequel a no-go, according to Chris Pine


Fingers crossed for 3 More Days to Kill happening some day
Dec 30
// Sean Walsh
Sad news for people who like Chris Pine, Tom Clancy, and spy movies in general. According to the star of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, there won't be a sequel. As he told Moviephone: No. I don’t think it made enough money...

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Christoph Waltz joins Bond 24 cast


Can't even right now
Nov 14
// Matthew Razak
Think of an actor that you'd like to see as a Bond villain because it's like they were born to play a Bond villain. Was it Christoph Waltz? It should have been. And since you did think of him you'll be excited to hear that Wa...
Damon in Bourne photo
Shakey cam enthusiasts rejoice!
Remember when Jeremy Renner took over the Jason Bourne franchise and was going to basically do a whole new set of trilogies? Yea. Not so fast. Deadline is confirming a rumor that went around last year that Matt Damon and dire...

Review: The November Man

Aug 28 // Matthew Razak
[embed]218262:41788:0[/embed] The November ManDirector: Robert DonaldsenRated: RRelease Date: August 27, 2014  The November Man is based upon a book called There Are No Spies and one can only hope that the book's plot makes more sense than the film's. Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan), the titular November Man, is a retired CIA spy who is called back for a mission to save an old flame. However, things go south and his old protege David Mason (Luke Bracey) ends up being the one hunting him for the CIA. To uncover why his ex was killed Peter must uncover a conspiracy involving the future president of Russia and a sex slave ring by tracking down a former sex slave with the aid of Alice Fournier (Bond girl alum Olga Kurylenko). It's a spy film so obviously there are twists, turns and double crosses, but the overall plot of the film is a complete mess. While it isn't hard to follow it makes little to no sense in the way it is put together or in its character's motivations. There's obviously a big cover up going on, but the movie jumps around so much between plot lines and inter-personal issues that it doesn't build to its conclusion with any tension. The story limps thanks to the plot jumping all over from action sequences to dark drama to dated spy-thriller espionage.  That dark drama is the worst of it. The film is tonally all over the place as is Brosnan's character, who can't seem to make up his mind if he's James Bond, mentally unstable or simply a dumb action star. There's very little reasoning behind his actions from one scene to the next as we get a character who feels more like a pastiche of action tropes instead of person. A particularly dark scene in which he threatens a young woman's life seems almost completely out of the blue for the character we saw before throwing witticisms as he saves Alice from death. Despite Brosnan's best efforts to imbue something into the role the more the glaring tonal shifts ruin him.  Even more disastrous is the film's treatment of women who are seen almost entirely as either sex objects or foils for men to play off of. Despite being about saving an abused child the movie gloriously heaps women's bodies on us and delivers female characters who are no more than caricatures. A woman's only use in this film is to advance the plot by making mistakes. When I wanted this film to be a throwback to 90s spy thrillers I was hoping that the at least semi-improved roll of women in these things would come along. Instead it feels like it hopped back to Sean Connery slapping a girl on the ass and saying, "Man talk." The November Man also just feels stale. Nothing in it feels new, and instead of the old school style making you feel nostalgic it makes you happy we don't have to watch movies like this anymore. A slow motion dive through a door while firing guns without a trace of irony? Directors grew out of that crap ages ago. That's not to say that Roger Donaldsen did anything with this movie that could really be called directing. Action sequences are pieced together so poorly that you can see the pulled punches. Donaldsen has years of (not very good) directing experience and he can't fit together a coherent fist fight here.  The movie is just a mess and if it wasn't for the fact that Brosnan produced it I wouldn't know why a agreed to star in it. If its treatment of female characters wasn't bad enough it doesn't even have a coherent lead role with any depth. Instead of having the complexity of the colors of leaves turning in November the film is instead as bland as dead branches in January. 
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Boring in any month
The fact that Pierce Brosnan was returning to spy movies pretty much made me one of the most excited people around. The November Man would be a harder, R-rated James Bond with some good action and maybe a little throwbac...

A Most Wanted Trailer photo
A Most Wanted Trailer

First trailer for A Most Wanted Man, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman


Apr 15
// Nick Valdez
A Most Wanted Man looks to be a great film that is going to fly under a lot of folks' radars. It's got everything you want. It's based on a novel, it's a spy thriller, and it stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe, and ...
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New screenwriters of Splinter Cell movie


Triple green goggle movie to start shooting in August
Apr 01
// Matthew Razak
Things seem to be rolling along for Tom Hardy's Splinter Cell film, which has a director, but evidently not a strong enough screenplay. Up in the Air writer Sheldon Turner has come on board to rewrite the screenplay...
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Splinter Cell

Splinter Cell adaptation gets Bourne Identity director


Mar 20
// Nick Valdez
The last we heard of Ubisoft and New Regency's Splinter Cell adaptation (back in 2012) it had a writer and Tom Hardy was set to star, and it looks like it's finally moving forward again. The project itself has been in li...
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John Logan talks Bond 24 and the return of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.


Is it too early to get far too excited?
Mar 05
// Matthew Razak
Sometimes do you just sit around and wonder why there isn't more news about the next James Bond film, momentarily titled Bond 24? No? Well, I do and so it's with great pleasure I bring myself (and you by proxy) news from scre...

Review: 3 Days to Kill

Feb 21 // Michael Jordan
[embed]217334:41270:0[/embed] 3 Days to KillDirector: Joseph McGinty Nichol (McG)Release Date: February 21, 2014Rated: PG-13  Before the opening credits roll, you will feel like you are building a sense of what this movie is: It's a spy action film following a man on his last mission in an attempt to prolong his life so he can reconnect with his daughter. After those credits? All bets are off. It's as if you are watching a movie that started off as one style, then quickly changed to another. The start of the movie will also jar some audiences a bit, as it does some very un-PG-13 things that feel out of place with the rest of the movie. Nothing really signals this more than the name of the movie itself and just how hard Kevin Costner's character, Ethan Renner, actually tries to limit the amount of people he kills. But once that gets out of the way, the movie just becomes fun. I often found myself grinning and laughing, as you will see quite a few bits of dark and lighthearted humor mixed in between the exposition and spy foolery going on. There is literally no better way to describe it, but a fun spy movie that is not afraid of shooting someone in the head and then making a joke about it.  The movie explores a lot of space in almost the same way an open world videogame would. Any synopsis you see will not really give the movie justice, as the small details of what's going on and the background humor of it really make this movie. The movie is more about a father reconnecting win his daughter while coming to grips with the fact that he is dying, and just so happens to be very well acquainted with death. That re-connection also stems to his estranged wife, played by Connie Nielsen, who knows exactly who Ethan is and what he is capable of, building the basis for why they are divorced. Amanda Heard enters in as femme fatale Vivi Delay, an agent with a love of fast cars, self gratification, and random violence who offers Ethan a chance to prolong his life through a very experimental drug that has him tripping harder than a hippy at a Grateful Dead concert. This makes for some interesting scenes, and a bit of a laugh if you've got the humor for it. Scenery, movement/flow of editing and transition and even clothing will make you think of the movie Taken and Taken 2, and for good reason, many of the production crew of these movies are shared. In many other films I would say that this is a bad thing, but 3 Days to Kill uses it to its advantage when combined with character banter and actions, and it does almost gleefully so. Kevin Costner's roles as a father and killer spy whimsically mix well together as he exchanges small talk and bullets. His interactions with supporting cast members Eriq Ebouaney and Marc Andreoni are extremely enjoyable but difficult to explain without spoiling them. Halide Steinfeld does a great job acting up the teenage daughter role, which is made more enjoyable when you are reminded that her father can be a cold blooded killer with a flick of a switch. Connie Nielsen has a rather dry performance as Christine Renner when she actually gets some screen time, but it does not feel too out of place with the idea that she is a mother and ex-wife in a difficult situation. But by far Amber Heard was having the most fun in this movie, almost jokingly over sexualizing herself, speeding around in fast cars, giving one liners, and leading an almost S&M relationship with Costner's character. With all that said, no one was giving award winning performances, but they were giving fun performances that were enjoyable to see. One of the major hang up that this movie has are the two main villains, The Wolf played by Richard Sammel and The Albino played by Tomas Lemarquis. They both come off as poor man's Bond villains in the rare occurrences they are on the screen, which makes me feel at odds considering Richard Sammel was actually in a Bond movie. Maybe it's due to the fact that they are so generic or that they have little to no appearance outside of the first and and last ten minutes of the movie -- only to serve as a start and resolution to the movie -- which are the weakest parts of the film, and make you feel like they could have been taken out of this movie entirely with little effort. A lot of what makes this movie enjoyable is the "Fuck it, why not?" attitude it takes while swimming in the atmosphere of a more serious movie. 3 Days to Kill is  like two kids sitting on each other's shoulders while wearing a business suit, trying to buy a nudie mag. They know what they are doing, they know it's wrong, but they are having a lot of fun in the process and the store clerk gets to laugh along the way. 
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Killing them Confusingly
3 Days to Kill is oddly complicated, and it has the potential to lose people right from the start. To understand this review you will have to keep that in mind, as what the movie appears to be and what the actual movie is are two totally different things. With that said, you are going to want to see 3 Days to Kill, even if the ride to the end of this roller coaster is extremely bumpy. 

FFS: Spy vs. Guy photo
FFS: Spy vs. Guy

Flix for Short: Spy vs. Guy


Apr 29
// Nick Valdez
Spy vs. Guy, written and directed by Seth Worley for software company Red Giant (who's short film, Tempo, we've featured before on Flixist), is basically what its namesake says. It's about a spy who needs who retrieve a devi...
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De Niro and LaBeouf to star in Spy's Kid


Apr 22
// Matthew Razak
No, no. Not Spy Kids, though that would be kind of awesome in a really horrible way, Spy's Kid. If the name didn't tip you off the film, which Paramount just announced will star Robert De Niro and Shia LeBeouf, is a spy movie...
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John Logan taking on writing duties for Bond 24 and 25


You better be ready for more Bond
Oct 26
// Thor Latham
Bet you didn't expect news about a Bond sequel so soon did ya? Hell, Skyfall hasn't even released in the states yet! Of course, that doesn't really mean anything when it comes to the Bond franchise, because it's not like we'r...

Losing My Virginity: The Spy Who Loved Me

Oct 25 // Nick Valdez
InThe Spy Who Loved Me,James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to investigate a string of British submarine disappearances. Joining him on his mission is Russian agent Major Anya Amasova, otherwise referred to as Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) because several Russian submarines have disappeared as well. The two agents need to find a way to work together, but also need to fulfill the needs of both of their governments. To make matters worse, Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), an international supervillain/cool aquarium owner is plotting to use those submarines to do some bad things. From the get go, the film establishes both Bond as a happenin' guy. In one of the coolest, yet oddest scenes I've ever seen, Bond finds himself in a ski chase where he uses one of the skis to shoot someone before plunging from the cliff in a wonderfully silent way. This is mainly what I meant by dangerously cheesy moments. While the ending of ski chase is great, the rest of the sequence is a little goofy. It doesn't help that the set up beforehand established Bond as a sort of a goofy individual. Before the ski chase, Bond is in bed with a woman. When she begs him to stay he states that England needs him. While that line of dialogue was supposed to come off as suave or manly, it sort of was a joke. After watching the rest of the film though, that tone of goofy/badass turns out to be beneficial instead of a detriment to Moore's Bond. While TSWLMhas several humorous subtleties such as the slight innuendo in the dialogue, there are plenty of situations which are dealt with a very heavy hand. There's a scene in the middle of the film where Bond is chasing down Jaws (a giant henchman with metal teeth) in front of a Sphinx. The set up beforehand had an awkward lighting technique accompanied even more awkward music. While that scene might have been meant to inspire tension or terror at Jaws's highlighted frame, it came off as overwhelming and out of place. Speaking of overwhelming, the action scenes (namely Bond's hand to hand fights) tend to feel clunky and go on for too long. Moore looks uncomfortable during each fight, and it translates to making de-evolving Bond into less of badass than the film attempts to portray him as. Thankfully, that awkwardness doesn't last long. When Bond isn't in a direct confrontation he shines. Moore somehow is able to seamlessly transition from goofy looking to suave. James Bond meets several women throughout the course of the film, and each of them throw themselves at him (sadly including Amasova later on). At first their wanton seduction feels unwarranted because Bond's clunky action scenes, but when Moore speaks his smooth one liners, their Bond lovin' state seems reasonable. Then again, the gorgeous women are an understandable stable of the Bond series, but luckily each woman gets something to do. One woman, besides Amasova, is particularly interesting. One of Stromberg's henchman is exploited for eye candy...until she gets to do something really badass during the car chase scene (that I won't spoil here) and her playful nature (as well as her exploitative role) is played for laughs. Stromberg is a also deliciously evil villain, but isn't that compelling. While Jurgens's delivery is suitably dark, his motivation falls in line with the overtly humorous tone of the film. However, I am willing to forgive that because he lives in a Legion of Doom-esque underwater base and can destroy things with a touch of a button. That metal mouth henchman I mentioned earlier? He's also excitingly dangerous, but his method of attack (painfully slow biting of the neck) is laughably avoidable. My biggest disappointment with the film though isn't its heavy handedness or it's awkwardly fighting Bond, it was the handling of Barbara Bach's Agent XXX. Agent XXX (which sounds like a pun code name, and TSWLM is full of puns), turns out to be a woman (given away in a very interesting opener) and while I'm sure this is a big deal for the franchise (I'm assuming they're called "Bond Girls" for a reason) I really enjoyed the nonchalant way the reveal happened. I was excited at the thought of a strong female character standing alongside Bond (who can be viewed as a symbol of manly manliness) as an equal. It's like it's not that important that she was a woman. She's was an agent first, and woman second. However it soon became clear that a strong Amasova would not be fully realized. Her initial appeal doesn't stick around too long as she eventually needs Bond's guidance and strength throughout the film. It's almost as if she forgets she's a badass also. All in all, I don't regret watching The Spy Who Loved Me. I may not have enjoyed the de-evolution of Amasova, but found myself enjoying Bond's overt (almost to the point of misogyny) masculinity as it was mostly played for laughs. In fact, the entire film was played for laughs. After watching Moore awkwardly manhandle some guys and then spout a one liner afterwards, seeing Jaws fix his tie every time he recovers from near death, and seeing Stromberg's giant Legion of Doom home base, I realized that the film is best taken on a surface level. I shouldn't try and look deeper into it, because there's nothing really there. It's just goofy being goofy, suave being suave, and genuine wacky fun being genuine wacky fun. At the very least, The Spy Who Loved Me has me interested in the rest of the Bond mythology now.
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"Well tell him to pull out...immediately!"
[Losing My Virginity articles are reviews written by someone who still hasn't seen an incredibly popular movie after all these years. LMV reviews are interesting in that they can offer the perspective of a person who's untain...

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Bloggers Wanted: Bond Month!


Oct 01
// Liz Rugg
Hey guess what! It's Bond Month! In honor of Skyfall, the new James Bond movie coming out this month-ish, and because we've got some crazy James Bond fans on staff around here, we've decided to dedicate an entire month to Jam...
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Daniel Craig to be in at least two more Bond films


Sep 06
// Thor Latham
I'm not sure this will surprise anyone, but Daniel Craig's contract obligates him to at least five films for the Bond franchise. If my calculations are correct, that would leave two more after next month's Skyfall. How is thi...
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Kenneth Branagh in talks to direct, star in Jack Ryan


Jul 20
// Alex Katz
I'm excited to report that the Christ Pine-starring Jack Ryan reboot from Paramount may finally be back on track. Having recently lost director Jack Bender, the studio has tapped Thor director and Dutch angle-e...
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Trailer: Argo


May 08
// Alex Katz
I love how Ben Affleck's evolved as an entertainer. We all cackled and laughed at him back in the day, largely from the whole Jennifer Lopez crap, and a lot of us had written him off. Then with the two-shot of Gone Baby Gone...
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Trailer: Safe House


Nov 03
// Liz Rugg
Usually, I'm not really one for big-budget action movies. This however, looks pretty awesome. Safe House stars Denzel Washington as an infamous CIA agent who goes rouge and Ryan Reynolds as an inexperienced, mid-level agency...

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