The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)
The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.

Release Date: August 3rd, 2018 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Susanna Fogel Actors: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Hasan Minhaj, Ivanna Sakhno, Gillian Anderson, Jane Curtin, Paul Reiser

 


 

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n Vilnius, Lithuania, CIA operative Drew Thayer (Justin Theroux) struggles to evade a gang of assassins from a crime syndicate called Highland. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Morgan Freeman (Kate McKinnon) commiserates with her best friend Audrey Stockman (Mila Kunis) – on her 30th birthday – over a breakup with her boyfriend, who happens to be Drew. He didn’t want to draw Audrey into his deadly world, but she’s under the impression that he runs a jazz-and-economy podcast and can’t handle commitment. Plus, he didn’t let her down easily, opting to call it quits over a text message.

Curiously, Audrey is defined by her relationship with a man whom her friends feel is too attractive and mature for her, which is difficult to buy into, considering Kunis’ own good looks. Her goal-setting is also called into question (she’s an employee at Organic Geoff’s grocery store), though this is never stressed until the very end, to reinforce a spontaneous notion of failures of ambition. Morgan, on the other hand, is overly intense, with McKinnon again donning her usual persona, which is to behave like an alien from another planet. Yet what is most unforgivable about the setup is Audrey and Morgan’s friendship; they have such little chemistry together that they simply don’t feel like longtime pals. Morgan resorts to awkward teasing and abrasive extroversion, which tends to annoy her companion far more frequently than it buttresses endearment. They do, however, convince as stereotypical dumb Americans, which lends to a couple of decent riffs.

“Don’t trust anyone.” As these movies tend to go, Audrey and Morgan are indeed drawn into a world of spies and assassins, flying to Vienna to meet with a contact named Verne to pass off a trophy that contains encrypted information that could save millions of lives. There, they become the “wrong men” – the targets of hired killers who are somehow unable to execute the terribly inept pair of unwitting agents. Though the premise harbors plenty of opportunities for accidental successes and slapstick escapes, its use of graphic violence quashes any levity built up by the lead duo’s crass bickering and sexual innuendo. As so many recent action comedies have done, “The Spy Who Dumped Me” hopes to produce genuinely exciting action sequences alongside the comedy, but it fails on two fronts: firstly, the elements aren’t blended, being forced to mostly alternate between adventure and asides for laughs; and secondly, the bloodshed is oftentimes so severe, it abruptly kills off the humor from conversations or confusions that segue into the violence.

This is never more apparent than with the primary henchwoman, Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno), who is impossibly weird and aggressive (she’s a runway model, a former gymnast, and a mercenary with expert marksmanship, who also happens to drive a chrome Ferrari); she could have made for a comic antagonist, like in the Austin Powers series, were it not for her abhorrent cold-bloodedness and sociopathy. With characters like her, the picture brings in martial arts combat, torture, shootouts, disfigurement, and an abundance of collateral damage (or countless bit parts getting shot up and murdered). There’s even a moment in which a woman’s arm is stabbed, causing her to clench the trigger of a machine gun for additional semiautomatic destruction, which is so striking – despite taking up about 2 seconds of screentime – that it deserved to be in a straight actioner. The balance isn’t found, however, with the comedy too goofy for the environments and the action too sinister to be laughed at.

A secondary love interest turns up in the form of spook Sebastian Henshaw (Sam Heughan), who also has an insincere sidekick (Hasan Minhaj as C. Duffer), but it’s just one more component that isn’t authentic. Sebastian and Audrey may flirt, but sparks don’t fly. As the minutes tick away (and there are far too many for a breezy action comedy design), the gags grow odder, the getaways become less sensible, and McKinnon’s quirks expand into otherworldly hijinks. It’s an exhaustingly unfunny mess.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10