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My Spy (Dave Bautista) - Review (Amazon Prime)

My Spy

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

EVER since Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to show his sensitive side in Kindergarten Cop it has become something of a rite of passage for Hollywood’s muscle-men to do the same. The results, post KC, have tended to be more miss than hit, ranging from Dwayne Johnson’s irritating The Game Plan to Vin Diesel’s excruciating The Pacifier.

It’s now the turn of Guardians of the Galaxy stalwart Dave Bautista (aka Drax) to emulate his predecessors by starring opposite a young girl in My Spy, which follows exactly the same format with better results than expected.

The format in questions finds a tough guy action hero, in this case CIA agent JJ (Bautista), finding himself in a domestic situation that involves bonding with a child co-star and rediscovering his sensitive side… step forward troubled schoolgirl Sophie (Chloe Coleman).

Sophie is the daughter of single nurse Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), whose uncle is involved in a nuclear threat to the world, and who might possibly come calling at Kate’s door.

Hence, JJ and his new partner/tech support Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) are put on surveillance, with JJ on his final warning after having killed all the bad guys without getting the necessary information from them at the start of the movie.

After Sophie quickly uncovers their operation, JJ is blackmailed into teaching her how to become a spy, before then falling for Kate and finding an unlikely shot at personal happiness.

Peter Segal’s movie plays so steadfastly according to the rule book for this kind of thing that you can practically map out the entire story arc from ‘violent’ start to cute middle section via ‘the truth being unveiled’ just as the bad guys arrive at the door.

But what elevates this above the norm are some knowing nods to other movies (some might call it plagiarism), the charisma of its main stars and a director who largely knows his way around the genres he’s mixing (Segal also directed Get Smart).

Hence, there are some genuine laughs, a palatable amount of schmaltz and some knowing nods to other movies, whether it’s a borrowed (but acknowledged) sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark or less pronounced nods to True Lies and Spy. The action is also kept 12A muscular.

Bautista acquits himself fairly well in the lead role, without stretching himself comically or dramatically, while Coleman just about keeps the right side of precocious. Fitz-Henley is a credible love interest and feisty mother, while Schaal is amiable enough as the sidekick.

The overall impression is that My Spy achieves what it sets out to in spite of the derivative nature of its screenplay and the manipulative and predictable direction of its plotting. It’s amiable without being particularly memorable.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 40mins
UK Release Date (Amazon Prime): Available now