Tag Archives: Peter Serafinowicz

Paul Feig’s Spy

I didn’t expect much from Spy, but it’s kind of one of the funniest films I’ve seen and, of the countless espionage spoofs out there, one of the most effective and witty efforts that sends up aspects of the Bond franchise and others in high style. It’s also a great starring role for Melissa McCarthy because for the first time since her absolutely wild career has taken off I got the sense that we were able to laugh ‘with’ her instead of laugh ‘at’ her, which is nice because she seems like kind of a sweetheart. This is also due to the fact that her reasonably competent agency analyst is perpetually surrounded by coworkers and enemies alike who, to quote a character from another spy spoof, are all ‘fricken idiots.’ She’s a low level desk jockey who serves as the techie eyes and eyes for Jude Law’s slick debonair super-spy who is a seemingly worldly but ultimately vacuous fellow. He manages to get himself in deep shit overseas and the agency’s impossibly jaded Director (Allison Janney, funny af) sends McCarthy and spectacularly klutzy coworker Miranda Hart on a globetrotting mission to find him and take down international arms smuggler Rose Byrne and her band of thugs. They’re also followed by Jason Statham as a rival agent who might actually be one of the dumbest people on planet earth and provides much of the film’s relentless, pulverizing and inspired humour. McCarthy is terrific here and initially has the hallmarks of the aloof caricature we’re used to seeing from her but by the end of her arc she’s earned her stripes and we believe she really has run this gauntlet for real and that the most unassuming character in our spy flick can make it as a field agent. Byrne is sultry, slick and unreasonably sexy as the bratty, moody villainess supreme and finds the right notes of menace, petulance and exasperation when she, like McCarthy, must stare down utter ineptitude in her own ranks. Statham sends up his own British tough guy image and is more around to be this agency court jester of thick-brained fuckery than serve any plot function, he’s a walking disaster and is loving every second of it. There’s also welcome appearances from Richard Brake, Bobby Cannavale, Morena Baccarin, 50 Cent and more. British comedian Peter Serafinowicz nearly walks off with the film as an agency contact in Europe that they have to babysit, he’s basically this hyperactive, incredibly pervy Italian weirdo who’s constantly trying to fuck, grope and sweet talk anything that moves and can barely be understood underneath his marinara soaked accent, it’s an acting creation that has to be seen to be believed. I had a lot of fun with this film when I didn’t expect much overall, but there’s a lot more going on than the glossy veneer of the marketing campaign might suggest. It’s a satire that understands every facet of the genre it’s trying to make fun of, feels at home in its tone and setting and provides this wonderfully written, crisply costumed, fast paced playground for all the actors to have some self aware, manic fun in. Great film.

-Nate Hill

John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2 expands nicely on a mythology that we caught a glimpse of from behind the shadowy curtain of assassin’s anthropology in the first film, a fantastic meld of stylish world building and hyper violent, stunts driven action that saw Keanu Reeves come blasting back onto the big screen in probably the best role so far of his career. Chapter 2 has one big challenge to face though: the first one was driven by the fact that those fuckers killed his dog, and the man’s subsequent bloodlust over it. That was the crux, the catalyst, the reason we cheered so loudly each time he maimed or mauled someone. Now, I don’t need an excuse like that to watch an antihero slaughter people, but some might, and the dog thing just propelled him forward faster and furious…er. What’s the catalyst here? Well, they destroy his house. Not quite the emotional kick in the nuts you get from seeing a beagle murdered, but it seems to be enough to light Wick’s fuse again, so there you go. He’s faced with a figure from his past here, some fruitcake of an Italian mobster (Ricardo Scamarcio) who wants him to come out of retirement and kill his powerful sister (Claudia Geroni) to ensure his seat at a revered council table of international crime figures. It’s basically John Wick’s Eurotrip, as he treks across the pond to kill more goons and thoroughly destroy more night clubs and other such convenient set pieces than you can shake a stick at, before returning back to New York for an ultra-violent third act. John Leguizamo, the always awesome Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan and David Patrick Kelly all reprise their wicked cool roles, whilst Common, Ruby Rose, Peter Serafinowicz and Franco Nero create new characters that flesh out this fascinating world of killer’s mythology even further. The film is special though for two important reunions for Reeves that give wonderful callbacks to earlier in his career: the prologue sees Wick ferociously reclaim his stolen car from Abram Tasarov (Peter Stormare) the more gregarious brother of Viggo, villain from the first film. Reeves and Stormare played Constantine and Lucifer in the underrated 2005 comic book adaptation, where they faced off with just as much menace and charisma we see in their little bit here. It’s also a reunion for Neo and Morpheus, because Laurence Fishburne shows up as the godlike Bowery King, a rooftop dwelling, pigeon keeping derelict who runs a vast crime syndicate that all disguise themselves as dishevelled hobos. It’s wonderful references like these that pack the pedigree with solid gold and moments to remember, not to mention it’s just a worthy sequel, a slam bang screamer of an action flick and a great time all round. Bring on Chapter 3, and I request an Al Pacino villain turn so we can get nostalgic for The Devil’s Advocate all over again.

-Nate Hill