A heady flock of laughs, thrills and glittery gadgets keeps this animated spy film soaring high.
Loosely based on the 2009 animated short Pigeon: Impossible, Spies in Disguise tells the story of Lance “the world’s greatest spy” Sterling who is turned into a pigeon after unwittingly swallowing an experimental concoction. And yet, with a little assistance required in his now-compromised form, he still has to stop a madman with a bionic arm and his swarm of killer drones from causing a global catastrophe. Plus, return to being human.
Casting Will Smith as the voice of Lance, what with his bon mots and impossibly puffed chest wrapped in a tuxedo, is the perfect move. His career is peppered by acid-tongued performances (Fresh Prince, Men in Black, Bad Boys) and this film feels no different. Tom Holland provides the voice of nerdy-but-nice Walter Beckett, the genius young scientist whose drink lands Lance into such a literal flap in the first place.
Spies in Disguise is the directorial debut for both Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, having previously worked as an animator and storyboard artist respectively, and there is much to applause about it. The soundtrack is backed by Mark Ronson as executive music producer and as slick as you’ve come to expect from a gadget-heavy spy film. While visually the wide range of settings, from Venice to Mexico and the raging North Sea, adds a sense of the colourful and epic.
But it’s the underlying messages of friendship and peace that turns it into something greater than just another action flick. The bond that blossoms between the initially disparate characters of Lance and Walter can teach younger viewers not that opposites attract, but that really there are no opposites to begin with.
Weapons of mass affection
And while Lance is keen on weapons and gadgets of mass destruction, idealistic Walter is about non-violence and creating weapons of mass affection. Exploding glitter gadgets(!), inflatable hugs(!!) and kitten holograms(!!?) are much more effective at scuppering baddies than they first sound.
With a strong cast, a pulsating story and valuable life lessons buried in it, there’s little disguising that this family film is a must-see this festive season.
Spies in Disguise is out in UK cinemas on Thursday 26th December.