The Spy Who Dumped Me
dir Susanna Fogel
scr Susanna Fogel, David Iserson
prd Brian Grazer, Erica Huggins
with Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson, Hasan Minhaj, Ivanna Sakhno, Jane Curtin, Paul Reiser, Fred Melamed, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Dustin Demri-Burns
release US 3.Aug.18, UK 22.Aug.18
18/US Lionsgate 1h56
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Not-so-deep cover: McKinnon and Kunis

theroux anderson minhaj
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Spy Who Dumped Me Consistently hilarious, this freewheeling action comedy not only has a superbly spiky script and inventive direction, but it's also an engaging new angle on true girl power. Much of the dialog feels improvised, which smartly loosens up the entire movie, breathing life into both the characters and the situations. So even if it's fairly structured, it feels like fresh take on the genre.

In Los Angeles, Morgan (McKinnon) is cheering up her best friend Audrey (Kunis), whose boyfriend Drew (Theroux) dumped her by text just before her birthday. Then two mystery men (Heughan and Minhaj) tell Audrey that Drew was a spy. Audrey also knows that Drew needed to deliver a package to Vienna, so she and Morgan head to Austria. Of course, nothing goes as they expected it to, and they continue to Prague, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin chased by various spies as well as ruthless assassin Nadedja (Sakhno). The question is who they can trust.

Filmmaker Fogel keeps the pace frantic even when the plot stretches perhaps one big set-piece too far. So it's never dull, and even dialog scenes come rapid-fire, peppered with hilariously unhinged humour and insane plot twists. Like McKinnon's character, the movie comes at the audience without mercy. Much of the humour is broadly over-the-top, yet even in the most manic moments there are subtle gags that elicit laughter amid the genuinely nasty violence.

McKinnon and Kunis have superb chemistry, with Kunis' savvy sensibility balancing McKinnon's silliness. A bit more space for sisterly bonding would have been nice, because their conversations are cut short by the action. But they still create memorable characters and, most importantly, a relationship that propels the story to its obvious conclusion. Side roles are enjoyable too, even if everyone's basically a foil for this dynamic duo. Sakhno gets the best break-out moments.

It's not ironic that some of the year's best action sequences come in what is essentially a girly comedy. And the film's strongest moments centre on McKinnon, such as when she meets Anderson's MI6 boss and is awed by how she mixes power and femininity ("You're the Beyonce of the government!"). Clearly, Fogel should have made more time for this kind of goofy jokiness and perhaps a little less shooting and killing. But there's never long to wait for the next snappy punchline. And we hope it's not too long before Audrey and Morgan team up for another mission.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, nudity 30.Jul.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall