THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME
OUT 22 AUGUST CERT 15 / 117 MINS
DIRECTOR Susanna Fogel
CAST Mila Kunis, Sam Heughan, Kate Mckinnon, Justin Theroux
PLOT Audrey (Kunis) has just been dumped. She thinks her ex, Drew (Theroux), got bored with her, but he is, in fact, a spy. When he resurfaces and reveals assassins are after him, Audrey has to complete his mission with the dubious help of her best friend, Morgan (Mckinnon).
AT SEVERAL POINTS in this uneven, but always likeable, comedy, Kate Mckinnon’s character, Morgan, is described as, “a little much”. It’s never an accusation that can be levelled at Mckinnon as an actress. She is usually, honestly, not quite enough; consistently underused in movies that would greatly benefit from a dash more Mckinnon. And while she’s technically the support as the catalyst for the adventure centres around Kunis’ Audrey, they soon become a delightful double act. Indeed, one of the great pluses of The Spy Who Dumped Me is that it gives Mckinnon a very-nearlylead role and she does not squander it.
Audrey is a woman who rarely makes a fuss. Her boyfriend, Drew (Theroux), has just dumped her and she’s moping about it, complaining to Morgan, her best friend, and trying to keep others from finding out her life is now empty. But her wish for an existence that’s a little more exciting suddenly comes true — she discovers her ex is actually a spy, assassins are after him, and it’s going to fall to her to complete his secret mission.
In the great tradition of accidental spy movies, Audrey goes haring around Europe, getting repeatedly involved in shoot-outs, car chases and doublecrosses, with Morgan in constant tow. Writer-director Susanna Fogel, whose only other feature credit is 2014’s indie Life Partners, puts together some very solid action scenes — the opening, in which we learn Drew’s real job, is particularly strong, with some very well-choreographed sequences that mix Bond and Bourne with big laughs. Stronger, though, are the lower-key scenes with Audrey and Morgan. Kunis and Mckinnon are very different performers, but Fogel finds a rhythm to suit them both. Kunis dials up, and Mckinnon dials a little down. Audrey starts as the more wired of the two, quite rightly freaked out by what’s happening, while Morgan leans into it. Gradually the two start to switch places, until Audrey’s the cool badass who can outwit any bad guy and Morgan has gone full lunatic, battling a grinning assassin on a trapeze.
The chemistry between Kunis and Mckinnon is such that it can lift a flat joke and make a good one sing. They’re a joy together, fully convincing that they’ve been friends for years. Their likeability has to do a lot of heavy lifting in the final act, when the storytelling takes some drastic weaves. What is set up as a ‘trust nobody’ thriller goes down so many circuitous routes it ultimately becomes confusing as to who is doing what and for whom and why. And one major question remains completely unanswered.
It’s unlikely, though, that anyone will be coming to this looking for a sophisticated spy mystery, so plot messiness can be, to an extent, forgiven. As a comedy it’s frequently great amounts of fun, and you absolutely won’t come away feeling like you were left shortchanged on Mckinnon. OLLY RICHARDS
VERDICT It’s a promising idea that starts well, and although it starts to flounder by the end, Kunis and Mckinnon do sterling work making sure it never completely runs out of energy.
They were gunning for glitz.