The art of espionage is always looking for a refresher…
What Spies In Disguise ultimately has going for it is that it’s basically a straight spy movie but with a silly conceit in an animated world and it commits to it entirely. It all makes for a nice blend of action and a heartfelt message.
Super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is … not. But when events take an unexpected turn, this unlikely duo are forced to team up for the ultimate mission that will require an almost impossible disguise – transforming Lance into the brave, fierce, majestic… pigeon. Walter and Lance suddenly have to work as a team, or the whole world is in peril.
Spies In Disguise is a deft blend of kid centric humor with enough sly meta moments and spy movie nods to keep the older audiences is happy.
Directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane jump into this with a fair amount of experience and skill looking to keep it all playing like a spy movie but animated with one silly premise, initially inspired from the short film Pigeon: Impossible; the script from Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor keeps all playing more like a Bourne movie then a kids movie and that actually works in its favor. It looks great with some stellar production design and photography that all fits inside the genre of the story that is being told while delivering a message of anti-violence still being able to stop the bad guys.
The action is solid from top to bottom and while we’re working with a fairly silly premise, every character in the film takes it 100% seriously but as it’s tone is inspired it ultimately only works as a cute piece of razzle-dazzle eye candy. It leaves any high ideals in the dust and makes something that is out and out popcorn entertainment.
Will Smith is an obviously great choice to fill the suave shoes of super spy Lance Sterling as he brings a certain amount of swagger to the screen even with just his voice. It’s an underrated skill to be able to handle both action and comedy in the same sitting but it’s something that Smith was made for. Tom Holland opposite him as the nerdy scientist Walter Beckett was a great fit and really the driving force behind the message of the movie in that there’s real value in being different in this world. All kudos have to go the directors as well because even though the two actors never actually met each other until the premiere of the film, Smith and Holland play off of each other with genuinely astonishing ease. Sure there’s a few other fun voices popping up like Rashida Jones, Rachel Brosnahan, Masi Oka, Reba McEntire, DJ Khaled and Karen Gillan to round it all out the film thrives thanks to the interplay between the super suave old school spy and the young tech nerd who just might have a better way to get the job done.
Ultimately Spies In Disguise is some kid flavoured popcorn entertainment with a solid message about the importance of being forward thinking and being open to the ideas of others. It’s a delightful romp that manages to have an actual point to it all.