In a world full of bad guys there are inevitably heroes, although they may not always appear as you think. Former army ranger turned CIA agent JJ (Dave Bautista) believes he is a world-saving superstar, but when his undercover mission takes a sudden turn towards the explosive, he finds himself abruptly removed from the front line and placed on a routine surveillance mission in which his new job is to simply observe the activity and movements of a villain’s family. When they are rumbled by said villain’s sharp-minded nine-year-old daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman), JJ is bent to her will in fear of having his cover blown. What follows is a tale of adventure and unexpected camaraderie as the duo tackle their own challenges with each other’s help.
In a film that takes a fairly safe approach, what is most noticeable is a truly brilliant performance from the youngest member of the cast. In cinema today, we see a number of superstars for the future, and they seem to be getting younger and younger, with 11-year-old Coleman proving an absolute fireball in her standout performance. She has a portfolio reaching all the way back to 2013 and recently made Variety’s list of top 30 actors under 18; in My Spy she truly proves why. Coleman is given free rein to make Sophie her own character and does so excellently, with versatility and likability. Watch this space for this young actor.
As the centrepiece of the story, Dave Bautista does what he does best: flexing his muscles, beating enemies and playfully being bullied by the sharp-witted child. Having proved his mettle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Guardians of the Galaxy’s skull-crushing, honest-speaking Drax the Destroyer, his role as JJ allows him to prove he has a more sensitive and diverse acting ability. This comes across through his comic timing, although it’s fairly cheesy, but the screenplay as a whole portrays him this way, taking the usual structure of such a movie and even going as far as to laugh at itself at some points. This can be an effective way of creating humour, but it can also work to the detriment of the film, which in this case is the more likely outcome.
The two leads bounce off each other well, with the spy instructing the innocent child in how to be like him and her melting his battle-hardened heart in the process, teaching him that there is more to life than what he already knows. The movie is, however, pretty risk-free, taking no chances in trying to present something new and unique, and its flow takes a dip as it enters its second act, the ultimate climax being completely predictable.
There are laughs, but do they land? Some certainly do and it is clear My Spy is a film for younger audiences, so the humour is targeted appropriately. However, overall it is a middle-of-the-road family comedy at best. It is absolutely a movie you can take your popcorn-munching children to and they will have a fantastic time, but if you are looking for anything more, don’t invest too long in this one.
My Spy is released nationwide on 13th March 2020.
Watch the trailer for My Spy here: