The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) (Review)

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon have arrived to give the end-of-summer schedule a bolt of energy and humour through their action-comedy vehicle The Spy Who Dumped Me. Arriving in cinemas almost a year to the day of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson's similarly-themed The Hitman's Bodyguard, this female-fronted spin on the genre hopes to continue the year's hot streak of studio comedies that started with Game Night and continued with the surprising Blockers and the better-than-it-ever-should-have-been Tag. Is Kunis and 'Kinnon's assignment one worth seeing, or should we abort this particular mission?

When Audrey (Kunis) is dumped by her boyfriend via text and later learns that he is a CIA agent on a mission, she and her best friend Morgan (McKinnon) find themselves embroiled in a chase through Europe, followed by assassins desperate to lay their hands on one of their possessions. Directed by Susanna Fogel who co-writes alongside David Iserson, The Spy Who Dumped Me co-stars Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan and Gillian Anderson in an entertaining farce that gives back to audiences exactly what they put into it. 

With a frothy mixture of humour, violence and emotion, The Spy Who Dumped Me is a solid and gleefully enjoyable slice of perfect popcorn cinema. Injecting a typically flat cinematic window with a sparkle and shine, it successfully balances a handful of genres that extracts consistent amusement from the absurd; while it would struggle to operate as an effective action film or standalone comedy in its own right, the blend of the two benefit the entire piece. Sure, it's a tad uneven and a little unrestrained at times - but it throws itself in and hits far more frequently than it misses.

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon are more than formidable in a somewhat formulaic film, using their effervescent, bubbling chemistry to alleviate the problems with the broader narrative. Perhaps the year's most well-matched, surprising and finely-tuned comic duo of the year - or at least rivalling Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman in Game Night - they light up the screen together and anchor the film during its more laboured moments. Kunis carries the dramatic weight to terrific effect but is more than capable of handling the comedic set-pieces too. McKinnon's exuberant personality is the film's beating heart, mind. Hysterical at each and every turn, her typically unique, off-beat brand of comedy is ramped up to extraordinary heights here and her reactions and interactions are a relentless source of real hilarity.

Its unabashed focus on female friendship and camaraderie is full of heart and you truly believe in the relationship of the central duo: it would truly fall apart without that but thrives because of how well it is handled. Often, the very best moments stem from Audrey and Morgan's rapport alone: in one CIA-set sequence, the pair cackle over an agent's bathroom methods and metaphor and it is a sheer joy to watch. I never wanted it to end. Brilliant together but each afforded their own individual moments to impress, The Spy Who Dumped Me owes a real debt to Kunis and 'Kinnon

Fogel and Iserson's screenplay combines the narrative formula and humour of Paul Feig's Spy (snagging more than a few familiar plot points in the process) to the delirious action-based violence and raunchiness of the Kingsman franchises to serviceable effect. It's nothing special and mainly operates as connectivity tissue to link the set pieces and barmy antics of the premise - but it zips along pleasantly enough. 117 minutes is a little too long to stretch this rather thin story across, there are unnecessarily-prolonged sequences in the film's second act and the humour splutters out on occasion. But with leads are compelling as ours - a total pleasure to be around even throughout the film's stickier patches - it is hardly challenging to grin and bear the slower moments.

Fogel's direction is relatively tight for the film's duration. With some creative sequences (a Vienna-set showdown and the subsequence car chase that spills onto the street is a clear highlight) containing some genuinely thrilling and surprising moments, it is packed with a breezy excitement that helps execute the all-important set pieces effectively. Alongside a terrific little mid-credits sequence and a high-wire finale that allows McKinnon to have her cake and eat it too, it flows rather well in spite of the second act hurdles, helped by the rotating European backdrop. There's little in the way of visual flair and when held against something like Mission: Impossible - Fallout, it obviously struggles - but in its own right, and considering Fogel's limited directorial experience and resources, it's a mighty fine achievement. 

The Spy Who Dumped Me is a perfectly enjoyable piece of summer popcorn cinema that would likely be reduced to a disappointing comedy if it wasn't for the marvellous Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis leading from the very front. Brilliantly-matched thanks to their sparkling energy, personalities and chemistry, they prop Dumped Me up throughout its weaker, more derivative moments. It won't reinvent the genre but it's a refreshingly breezy, endlessly pleasing thrill with some genuinely hilarious gags along the way. It's self-aware but never to a fault, indulging in conventions but injecting a sense of, if never fully embodied, creativity that ensures the action elements function alongside the comedy. Better than the latest Bond and Bourne, The Spy Who Dumped Me is a hoot and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get yourself to a cinema to see it.


Summary: Excelling on the back of Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon's comedic brilliance and effervescent chemistry, The Spy Who Dumped Me is an entertaining piece of popcorn cinema and while a little more formulaic than you'd like, a breath of fresh air in the stuffy summer season.