Empire (UK) - - ON.SCREEN -


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.

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