Archives for posts with tag: spy movies

I hadn’t seen a good Cold War spy thriller in a while, so I was interested in viewing “The Courier” (2021). It trundles pithily down a familiar, based-on-a-true-story path, with little, tiny spy cameras and Benedict Cumberbatch as a salesman recruited to serve as the West’s go-between to a Soviet colonel concerned about Khrushchev. Then comes the Cuban Missile Crisis and things take a dark turn, with KGB agents, dark prison cells, and Cumberbatch looking wan on the Capital A Acting diet. It’s not bad, just jarring. Spoiler alert: We all didn’t die in a nuclear holocaust 60 years ago.

The thing about spy movies is that the willing suspension of disbelief is often abused (She’s a double-agent! No, wait! A triple-agent! In a double cross! No, wait! A triple cross!). The thing about movies based on a comic book is that they’re more worried about setting up a franchise than telling a cohesive story. The confluence of these two dilemmas is “Atomic Blonde” (2017), a delicious piece of eye candy that turns out to be empty cinematic calories. Not that it isn’t interesting. It’s like a Charlize Theron action-hero highlight reel. But it’s not a real movie. Too bad.

Sometimes Melissa McCarthy is too much of a good thing (get it?) but I was laughing out loud just about all the way through “Spy” (2015). I also sometimes become numb to movies that shower me with a 119-minute fusillade of F-bombs, but listening to McCarthy and Rose Byrne rip each other a new one was almost “Sopranos” worthy. It’s a comic retelling of a Bond-like story, with BMWs, helicopters, poisoned drinks and McCarthy’s schtick. The pacing is good and a strong commitment to both the action (arterial spray) and comic (stool softener) genres balance each other (and McCarthy) nicely.