Grimsby – ★★★★

SYNOPSIS: Highly skilled M16 spy Sebastian (Mark Strong) is tasked with preventing an assassination attempt from taking place in London. But his mission is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of his long-lost brother Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen), a football hooligan from Grimsby. Reconciled after 28 years, the pair find themselves on the run before Sebastian discovers that the assassination attempt is linked to a terrorist plot that could put the world in grave danger. The brothers must work together to prevent the plot from taking place which leads to shocking antics along the way.

When it comes to comedy films in the last decade, you can definitely say that Sacha Baron Cohen is king of the crop especially when that humour is jaw-dropping and vulgar. From his successful mockumentary efforts like Borat (2006) and Bruno (2009) to his satirical flick The Dictator (2012), you would think the man has put himself (and his audiences) through enough. Judging from his latest outing Grimsby, that certainly isn’t the case!

The raunchy action-comedy has taken its time in getting released but still manages to deliver even when it involves such a bizarre plot and an 83 minute running time. However it still manages to work effectively particularly when the majority of scenes focus on our leading duo.

Director Louis Leterrier, better known for hit and miss blockbusters like The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans, does a commendable job of setting up the visual shots to perfection such as the squeamish moments that make you wonder how the film escaped being rated 18.

As was the case with the likes of Borat and Bruno, the gross-out humour is there for all to see and this is demonstrated by two particular sequences that are just borderline disgusting but still manage to bring out the laughs albeit uncomfortable ones. The less harmful scenes (if you can call them that!) also escalate the film which include a case of mistaken identity at a spa therapy centre and the representation of Grimsby as a decrepit town with layabouts and foul-mouthed children. Even major celebrities find themselves being ridiculed including Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and current presidential candidate Donald Trump.

However the film also excels in keeping action fans entertained as we are treated to a visually-stunning opening sequence showing Sebastian performing a dangerous mission without breaking a sweat. The thrills continue throughout with the ongoing humour adding to all the fun. There’s even an emotional sub-plot that proves key to the brothers’ relationship as we see them as rebellious young children whose futures ultimately change as a result of them being kept apart.

As is the case with his previous outings, Cohen is just as wild as ever as he dons the Liam Gallagher hairstyle to play a loutish individual who becomes a nuisance to his brother but still generates praise for having great chemistry with his straight-laced co-star Mark Strong. The casting of the bald headed actor proves to be a masterstroke as he excels in playing it serious regardless of the grotesque predicaments that he ends up being put through.

The film does a terrific job of appointing an exceptional cast of familiar faces even if a few of them feel somewhat wasted. Despite her key role in the film, Penelope Cruz figures in just three scenes which make her involvement anti-climatic. Even her ‘plot’ to rid the world of the benefit cheats and scum feels somewhat familiar to the villainous plan in another recent British action comedy, Kingsman: The Secret Service. It’s also disappointing to see Ian McShane and the lovely Tamsin Egerton be limited to spending their screen-time watching the action unfold from the MI6 headquarters without much use elsewhere.

Fortunately, the likes of Rebel Wilson (as Nobby’s simple wife Lindsey), Cohen’s actual wife Isla Fisher (as MI6 agent Dawn) and Peaky Blinders’ Annabelle Wallis (as South African seductress Marianne Smit) are well utilised as significant female characters while it’s great to see the likes of Ricky Tomlinson, Johnny Vegas and more randomly, Captain Phillips’ Barkhad Abdi make impressive contributions to the film.

Though it falters from a daft plot, Grimsby is a riotous spectacle to behold and once again proves why Cohen is the master of the ‘gross comedy’ house.

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