Review: ‘The Spy,’ racing tale of real-life espionage

Photo courtesy of IMDb

By Armstrong Simms | Contributor

Real-world spies don’t live nearly as action-packed a life as our favorite on-screen espionage heroes. They don’t grab on to jets as they take off, and they usually don’t engage in high-speed car chases in overly expensive cars.

“The Spy” is a Netflix Original Limited Series based on the life of Israel’s top spy in the 60s, Eli Cohen played by Sacha Baron Cohen. The show contains six 45 minute episodes, each one focusing on a certain event in Cohen’s five year career as a spy. It has its flaws for sure, but it’s dramatic and nerve-wracking. “The Spy” is a good spy series for drama fans, not necessarily for action fans.

The directorial style is a little hard to get used to at first with words floating on the screen and blown-out shots. It seemed like bad filmmaking at first, but I quickly realized it was just the style. It takes some getting used to, but overall it’s not bad.

The episodes didn’t give me that cliff-hanger feeling. I wanted to watch the next episode, but I felt I could wait a bit. “Stranger Things,” on the other hand, left me glued to the couch, absolutely unable to move until I finished it all. “The Spy” wasn’t like that. It was more of an “I’m mildly interested to see what happens next” feeling.

Each episode more or less wraps itself up.

However, I did appreciate how the filmmakers chose to portray Cohen. He isn’t one of those action heroes who wins every fight. Cohen gets beat up a lot. He’s not a secret government superhuman and he’s not in amazing shape—he can’t block every punch thrown at him. It makes the show more interesting, though. I was never sure he was going to make it out of situations alive.

There are moments when “The Spy” feels amateurish. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about TV series’, it’s that you can get away with poor filmmaking. At the end of the day, the bad shots are forgotten.

When you watch what essentially amounts to a five hour movie, you really only remember the story. The story is the best part of “The Spy.” Which isn’t exactly a compliment to the filmmakers since the story was the only thing they didn’t create.

I will say, however, that if you watch to the ending you will not be disappointed. The beginning of the final episode is crazy and actually makes watching the rest worth it.

Author’s warning: “The Spy” is rated TV-MA. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

My rating: 7/10