Film re­views

The Spy Who Dumped Me, Beirut, On Ch­e­sil Beach, Sum­mer 1993

The Sunday Times - - Hot List -

STAR­RING: Mila Ku­nis, Kate McKin­non, Justin Th­er­oux

DI­REC­TOR: Su­sanna Fo­gel

IN CINE­MAS: Thurs­day (MA 15+)

117 mins

VER­DICT: Vi­o­lently funny

THERE’S a mo­ment in this wildly en­ter­tain­ing, fe­male-driven ac­tion com­edy where Justin Th­er­oux’s spy cru­elly de­scribes Kate McKin­non’s char­ac­ter as “a lit­tle much”.

And for me, Satur­day Night Live co­me­dian McKin­non can be just that — when she doesn’t have the right team be­hind her. But Mila Ku­nis, as the jilted straight woman of the ti­tle, grounds her crazy co-star beau­ti­fully.

And di­rec­tor Su­sanna Fo­gel gives McKin­non’s free-form com­edy so­los enough room to breath — with­out let­ting them un­der­mine the over­all struc­ture.

The cli­mac­tic se­quence in which McKin­non’s char­ac­ter, Mor­gan, dis­guises her­self as a mem­ber of Cirque de Soleil troupe is a good ex­am­ple.

Dressed in a stripey, ruf­fled cos­tume, the way­ward co­me­dian is clearly in her el­e­ment.

Des­per­ate to take part in the show, Mor­gan even­tu­ally finds an ex­cuse to clam­ber to the top of the high­est trapeze plat­form, where she comes face to face with the ruth­less Rus­sian as­sas­sin and for­mer gym­nast known as Nad­edja (Ivanna Sakhno).

The en­su­ing mid-air show­down is bru­tal and funny.

Ku­nis is equally well served by this comedic part­ner­ship.

Her char­ac­ter, Au­drey, is cat­a­pulted into the mid­dle of an in­ter­na­tional es­pi­onage cri­sis when the boyfriend (Th­er­oux) who dumped her goes miss­ing some­where in Lithua­nia (un­be­known to Au­drey, he was an un­der­cover CIA agent).

Fol­low­ing his dis­ap­pear­ance, the un­der­achiev­ing check­out chick be­comes the tar­get of an end­less stream of gang­sters, as­sas­sins, dou­ble agents and un­der­cover op­er­a­tives who are all des­per­ate to get their hands on the pre­cious item her ex left be­hind.

Un­able to tell the good guys from the bad, Au­drey and Mor­gan take mat­ters into their own hands.

But when the planned han­dover at a cafe in Aus­tria ends in a vi­o­lent blood­bath, the two women flee the coun­try, criss-cross­ing Europe un­til they are kid­napped.

Al­though they are novices, Au­drey and Mor­gan ac­quit them­selves sur­pris­ingly well un­der pres­sure.

Thanks to her wasted hours in video ar­cades, Au­drey is handy with a gun. She’s also calm in a cri­sis.

Mor­gan’s im­pul­sive, boots-and-all ap­proach also proves oddly ef­fec­tive.

Sam Heughan’s smooth-talk­ing British agent, Se­bas­tian Hen­shaw, is a good foil for these two lead char­ac­ters.

And Gil­lian An­der­son gives Judi Dench a run for her money as the MI6 chief.

Di­rected with a light, con­fi­dent touch, The Spy Who Dumped Me is a fe­male buddy movie that knows ex­actly what to do with the ad­di­tional X chro­mo­some.

Ku­nis and McKin­non have a nat­u­ral screen chem­istry that is sup­ported by the film’s screen­play, co-writ­ten by Fo­gel.

Char­ac­ter-gen­er­ated com­edy, over-the-top ac­tion, kamikaze karaoke — what more could movie­go­ers ask for?

An off­beat cel­e­bra­tion of fe­male friend­ship. VICKY ROACH

Kate McKin­non and Mila Ku­nis in The Spy Who Dumped Me.

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