'Spies in disguise' review: A salutary message in our troubled times

Film: Spies in Disguise

Cast: Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled

Directors: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane

Rating: ****

Did you know the CIA used spy pigeons for top secret Cold War missions? Details can be found in declassified docs accessible to the common man. Birds were used in ancient times to relay messages usually pertaining to trade and commerce and it was only a matter of time before our feathered friends were employed for spying. Avian espionage straddles this family friendly animated satire on inter-species body swap: to be specific, it narrates the travails, adventures of a super spook who is transformed into a pigeon. That’s right! A pigeon.

Not a raven which was trained to deposit bugging devices on window sills or to retrieve objects. Lucas Martell’s award winning animated short Pigeon: Impossible inspired Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor to write a feature length toon for which story artist Troy Quane and animator Nick Bruno make their directorial debut.

The quartet’s efforts are educational (ha ha!), and wordsmith Shashi Tharoor probably knows all about cloaca. Most of you will surely approve of the gadgets made by Walter Beckett (Tom Holland, voicing this film’s version of MI6’s Q) for super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith).

As Walter sums it,”When we fight fire with fire, we all get burned.” Heartwarming as his motivations are, the plot gets a tad unoriginal: Chief baddie Killian (Ben Mendelsohn) slanders Lance, which results in agency staff Jenkins (Reba McEntire) Marcy (Rashida Jones) and DJ Khaled pursuing a star agent assumed to have gone rogue.

Incredible become incredulous when Walter’s bio-transformational solution changes suave Lance into a small blue pigeon – and Walter is slow in creating an antidote. So, come hell or high water, the nerd and the spook must work together to save the world.

Expect lots of action, fun, jokes and slapstick considering the ill-matched buddies and Walter’s non-violent gadgetry which is clearly inspired by the New Testament exhortation “Do not resist evil with evil.” Which isn’t easy since the duo has to neutralise evil Killian who even has a bionic claw instead of a hand. As Walter puts it, “We must find a good way to stop the bad.” A salutary message in our troubled times. Enjoy.

Email: ronitatorcato@gmail.com

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