Directed by Susanna Fogel
Starring Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan
The female spy comedy seems to be one of those formulas that has been kicking around of late, but hasn’t quite found its stride. Spy was a solid example but “missed it by that much”. The Spy Who Dumped Me is a much more straightforward take on a buddy action comedy than McCarthy’s 2015 flick, but it also comes closer to the bullseye.
When Audrey (Mila Kunis) is dumped by her boyfriend (Justin Theroux) by text on her birthday, it is up to her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) to provide the emotional support that she needs. However what neither of them know is that Audrey’s ex is a spy, and they soon become embroiled in a secret and dangerous world of espionage that soon sees the two friends pursued across Europe by assassins and the CIA alike.
The Spy Who Dumped Me is certainly not a thinking piece, reliant on the performances of its two leads to give it much of its entertainment value. However, scratch the surface and there’s just enough depth and understanding of the genre to carry it through. The film ticks all the boxes required from a Bond (or Bourne) spy film from the high speed car chase through a European city, to the confrontation with the main henchman (…person) in a precarious location. It also occasionally subverts the genre to great effect through the trope of “accidental badass”, allowing for some hilariously funny moments in amongst bloody mayhem.
The script also allows at least a tentative exploration of images of self worth, pitting the flawed friends against entitled college bros and inhumanly perfect ice queen assassins alike. Each confrontation seems to face certain societal expectations to be met and overcome. Again, The Spy Who Dumped Me isn’t subtle about it, but it’s just nice to know it’s there.
Although the execution is occasionally rough around the edges, what makes this film is the chemistry Kunis and McKinnon. This “womance” (the female version of the bromance, thanks The Breaker Upperers) works because Kunis and McKinnon sell their friendship. Both would cut you for hurting their friend, both would offer the other a shoulder to cry on, or someone to get drunk with – this is never in any doubt. Both boost and uphold each other’s confidence, providing a yin and a yang to the relationship. Finally, both utterly nail the comedy. McKinnon revels in an over-the-top character enthusiastically approaching life, while Kunis is more the straight man in the comedy duo. This leads to McKinnon having a rapid fire approach to jokes, hitting slightly more than she misses, while Kunis just quietly finishes things off.
The result is not perfect, but solidly entertaining. The Spy Who Dumped Me manages to hit the mark.