DIRECTED BY: Peter Segal
STARRING: Dave Bautista, Chloe Coleman, Kristen Schaal, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Greg Bryk, Devere Rogers, Noah Dalton Danby, Ken Jeong, Vieslav Krystyan, Basel Daoud, Ali Hassan, Jean-Michel Nadeau, Olivia Dépatie and Keller Viaene
A hardened CIA operative finds himself at the mercy of a precocious 9-year-old girl, having been sent undercover to surveil her family.
My Spy is an action comedy that focuses on JJ, a former US Special Forces soldier that’s recently been working at the CIA. Unfortunately, JJ lacks the finesse and blows his first major mission. Despite this, he and tech operator Bobbi are assigned to keep an eye on the in-law-family of Victor Marquez, a French illegal arms dealer who has obtained construction plans for a miniaturised nuclear bomb, which is believed that could be possessed by his late brother’s wife Kate, and her daughter Sophie, as they moved back to Chicago from France after the brother’s death. Little Sophie discovers hidden camera in their apartment however and locates JJ and Bobbi’s surveillance operation, leading to Sophie giving JJ a deal: he spends time with her and teaches her how to be a spy in exchange for not blowing his cover.
My Spy is a film that’s had trouble, like most films this year, getting a cinematic run. Though it was originally set for August 2019, it was then pushed back to the middle of March 2020, with its cinematic run cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn led to Amazon Studios acquiring the film and has been on Amazon Prime since last week.
The film goes trying to evoke charm with its story of a young girl softening the heart of a big, muscular man, and the film does have its moments and that’s due to the scenes shared between Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman. The latter in particular I found to be good here in terms of performance as she’s charming (as well as television series Upload) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her appearing in more films in the next while (whenever Hollywood gets back to ‘normal’). Dave Bautista shines better in the films action sequences, but he does have moments of charm and providing comedic relief, I just think he’s better than the material he had to work with here. Kristen Schaal also provided some laughs as Bobbi, JJ’s handler and biggest fan. There’s a few decent gags where it pokes fun that the spy genre, in particular placing some expectation meets reality type execution in certain scenes.
While the film has its moments, it’s pretty generic in how it handles the material with the same beats that you would see in this kind of film before (Kindergarten Cop, Mr Nanny, The Game Plan…pretty much any film that involves a muscular actor with a young kid) and, unfortunately, it’s pretty forgettable, as it doesn’t try to add anything new to the formula, it just coasts and relies on the charm of the actors. After all if I say there’s an awkward dance scene played for laughs for the audiences, which people in attendance think ‘yeah, we should do it to!’ and copy it, you’d swear that I picked out a scene from a 2000’s/mid 2000’s film and that’s exactly what happens here and most of the comedy beats here are flat. The main villain (played by Greg Bryk, who unfortunately doesn’t have much to work with other than follow the villain 101 handbook) is one-note filler as the film focuses more on the heart of the film between JJ with Sophie and Kate. Another issue is that the film goes for an epic set-piece setting of a finale that doesn’t work due to the visual effects being sub-par.
My Spy will work well to watch with the family and kids to pass the time for an hour and forty minutes, with a few decent laughs and performances amongst the ensemble, particularly Coleman and Schaal. Unfortunately it knows exactly what it is, meaning it coasts from start to end and just ends up being flat and forgettable.