Despite its likeable leads and cracking action sequences, THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME ultimately opts for style over substance
Ever since James Bond first introduced himself on the big screen back in 1962, the spy spoof genre has thrived. From CASINO ROYALE (1967) to Paul Feig’s recent SPY (2015), spy spoofs continue to dominate the box office with Susanna Fogel’s latest offering THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME hoping to make its mark.
THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME follows Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon), two thirty-year-old best friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action and go on the run throughout Europe with a suspicious-but-charming British agent (Sam Heughan) in an attempt to hatch a plan and save the world.
While the premise behind THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME is certainly not new, Fogel’s girls-on-the-run misadventure surprisingly opens up strong. It’s clear from the opening sequence in which Drew effortlessly dispatches off a group of assassins in a Lithuania market that we are in for a treat with the action sequences. Thanks to some wickedly inventive and excitingly choreographed sequences from Bourne and Bond stunt coordinator Gary Powell, the action here is skilfully staged and Fogel, together with cinematographer Barry Peterson, capture it beautifully.
What also works well is the rapport between the two lead actors. Kunis and McKinnon have great energy together and you really believe that they are lifelong friends. It is this push-and-pull dynamic between McKinnon’s devilish confidence and Kunis’s neurotic practicality where THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME is at its best.
Shame then that the comedy doesn’t pull off as well as hoped. The risk with these types of films is that the funniest parts are often in the trailer and unfortunately that’s what happened here. Not every joke lands — two needless gags involving diarrhoea mercifully stop before going too far – and the film relies heavily on a series of rapid-fire one-liners and silly asides mostly delivered by McKinnon. Don’t get me wrong, McKinnon steals almost every scene she’s in but sometimes her character is so full on that you wish someone would reel her in.
The tonal balance between all of the madcap comedy and bone-crunching violence is also a little jarring. The big issue with THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME is Fogel’s and David Iserson script never properly articulates what we’re watching or why. As Audrey and Morgan face one double-cross too many, the action heads towards a baffling finale which doesn’t really make any sense at all and its overall blasé attitude towards violence feels oddly out of step with the low-key comedic energy of its leads.
That said, while this isn’t the funniest or most inventive spy comedy you’ll ever see, THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME is entertaining enough thanks to its pair of likeable leads and cracking action sequences.
THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME is released in UK cinemas from 22 August 2018.
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.