What is it with ex-wrestlers turned movie stars starring alongside super-cute kids in corny action-comedies? Hulk Hogan did it years ago with “Mr. Nanny”. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made “Tooth Fairy” and “The Game Plan”. Paul “Triple H” Levesque starred in “The Chaperone”. And just last year John Cena made “Playing with Fire”. Not to be outdone, Dave Bautista now takes his turn with “My Spy”, a film originally set for a big screen release but bought by Amazon after the COVID-19 theater closings.
The film comes from director Peter Segal and was written by Jon and Erich Hoeber. In it Bautista plays a hardened CIA agent named JJ. He’s rather new to the whole spy game yet for some logic-defying reason his boss (Ken Jeong) sends him on a solo mission to Russia to infiltrate an illegal weapons exchange. What’s on the line? Only enough plutonium to blow up a major city. JJ botches the job killing everyone except one guy who slips away with half of the plutonium.
As a result of blowing his mission JJ gets moved to surveillance where he’s teamed with an air-headed tech specialist named Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) who happens to be his biggest fan (I’m still not sure why. All I can figure is she likes that he kills a lot of people and has big muscles). The two are sent to Chicago where they are to keep tabs on a young widow named Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and her 9-year-old daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman). They’re on the run from an evil in-law named Victor (Greg Bryk) who believes Kate is hiding plans for a nuclear bomb given to her by her late husband.
That’s already more information than you really need because plot-wise none of that stuff is remotely convincing. But if the CIA angle still wasn’t absurd enough, within minutes of getting the surveillance equipment up and running, JJ and Bobbi are discovered by Sophie who records them admitting they are CIA operatives. She then uses the recording to blackmail JJ into doing the typical stuff – taking her ice skating, getting her ice cream, going to parent day at her school, and of course teaching her how to be a spy (as if JJ would know). In a goofy bit of irony, Bobbi (framed as the dumbest character in the movie) is the only one who can see how nuts all of this is. Go figure.
From there it follows an insanely predictable path. The brawny tough guy does a lot of silly stuff and begins to soften up. A chemistry-less romance between JJ and Kate springs up. And of course once the bad guy inevitable surfaces we get a violent by-the-books action finale. There isn’t a box that “My Spy” doesn’t check. The lone saving grace is young Coleman who despite being trapped in a derivative story has enough charm to divert our attention (at least a little).
It’s tempting to dismiss my own opinion by simply accepting that I’m not the target audience. Then again I’m not quite sure who the target audience is. The dead bodies and the smattering of crude dialogue are enough to muddle the lines. So I’ll stick with my take – “My Spy” misses its mark, nothing about it seems fresh or original, and Dave Bautista may not quite be ready for leading roles. Still, he’s not the first wrestler-turned-actor to do this kind of movie. Probably won’t be the last. “My Spy” is now playing on Amazon Prime.
VERDICT – 2 STARS