My Spy (2020)

I mentioned in my review of Stuber last year my hope that this would be the film that causes Batista to go from “oh yeah, that guy” to “THE guy”. Sadly that’s not the case. This film is predictable, the villains are SEVERELY underdeveloped, and a lot of the actions of the characters don’t make any sense if you think about it for more than a minute. It’s also REALLY fun and well worth a watch.

Yeah it has some flaws, but I seriously doubt you’ll regret watching it. It’s funny, sweet, and has enough unique parts to stand out. It sets its tone very early on with a hostage situation that turns into laugh out loud comedy, and a reference to Iron Man 2 (although if the MCU exists in this universe, who played Drax?), and then plays a car chase to foreign language covers of I Will Survive and My Heart Will Go On. It’s a cheap laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless. It’s also something you don’t really expect in this film, a bit like the high number of Notting Hill references compared to most comedy action films.

Now when I say “things that don’t make sense” they’re mainly character-based mistakes rather than impossibilities. For example he stands in front of a class and admits he’s a spy. Number one on the “list of things needed to be a good spy” would be “never mention you’re a spy” yet he never suffers any backlash from this. (Number two on the list, by the way, is “a preference for cheese sandwiches over ham”, I don’t know why that’s important, it just is.) It’s strange as he suffers for other things he do which aren’t spy-like, but not for this. It’s a very sweet moment, and incredibly funny, but like I said it doesn’t make that much sense. I mean, it is worth it for his description of his time in the service when he mentions killing people: “they were all terrorists, human traffickers, or really annoying”

One thing is made abundantly clear in this film: Batista is f*cking huge. You don’t normally notice it because he’s paired up against similarly muscled men. But when you see him standing against normal people, you realise he’s a massive human being. Like, scarily large.

So in summary I think you do need to see this. It’s not like “omg that was so smart and brilliant” but near the end they think a helicopters about to explode so she begs to do a slow cool-guy walk away from it. it doesn’t blow up so he throws a grenade at it so she can do it. How can you not love a film like that?

Stuber (2019)

I’ll admit this film didn’t need a lot to win me over. I was won over by its mere existence from the first time I saw the trailer. Kumail Nanjiani is really funny, and even when he’s only in a film for one scene is usually the funniest part of the movie. As shown by The Big Sick he’s more than capable of leading a film too. His characters are usually kind of similar, so I was curious as to how that character would work out in what is essentially an action movie. Dave Bautista is a weird one, as he’s been in a lot of very good action films, and played major parts in very big films, yet he’s still not thought of as a big movie star. I think the issue is that the films he’s been in, are very good films, but they’ve never really felt like his. The movies have always felt bigger than he is, and it’s hard to imagine someone buying a ticket based solely on his presence. It’s weird as he is VERY good at what he does. Also, he’s a big guy, and one who’s not afraid to do comedy, so I don’t think any of it is down to him, I think he’s just missing THAT film to launch him to the next level.

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There is a chance this might be it though, this looks great.

Sadly, this isn’t that film. It is very good though. One of those films where you walk out of the cinema and feel good. You’re happy with what you just saw. You don’t need to see it again immediately, but if it’s on Netflix or Amazon prime you’ll definitely rewatch it. This is the kind of film that was made for 90’s video rental stores. It is very funny, to the point where the audience laughter was so loud at some points it felt like the film had a laugh track. The plotting, too, was REALLY well done in terms of setting things up, forget Chekov’s Gun, this is more like Chekov’s Slightly Disturbingly Sized Armoury (quite possibly the most “film-student” joke I’ll ever make. Although I feel “joke” should be in quotes too, and look, now it kind of is, the magic of writing).

So why is it not great? Well, the action scenes feel a little lacking at times, not much really stands out in that aspect. Also, despite being only 93 minutes, it still seems to take a while to get going. In fact, I’d argue it doesn’t really get going until they go the strip club and interact with the male dancers there. Yes, once again this is a film saved by the presence of naked men, just like The Emoji Movie (it’s possible I walked into the wrong cinema for that movie). It also doesn’t really have the heart it thinks it does. It nearly does, but for some reason, a lot of the emotional beats don’t hit home fully (with the exception of one near the end which the film REALLY earns). It also has issues with the side characters not really having much characterisation. But the most annoying moment for me was one of the fight scenes. There’s a moment where the two main characters come to blows in a sporting goods store, and it just seems like padding. It also breaks the realism as there are moments where you think “well that would kill them, or at the very least severely injure them” and it reminds you that you’re watching a movie (which explains all the people sitting near me eating popcorn). It brings the story to a complete halt for a few minutes and didn’t really do enough to justify its inclusion in the movie. So yeah, I would say you should watch this once, but you don’t need to see it more than that. It’s a film you’ll like and enjoy very much, but not one you’ll love.