Are you a couple with a date night dilemma? Do you both want to go and catch a movie, but can’t decide on what genre to watch? Perhaps the lady wants to watch a zany romantic comedy, but the man wants to go watch a high-stakes action thriller? (Or maybe it’s the other way round: we’re not judging!)
Then perhaps The Spy Who Dumped Me would make a good compromise.
This film is perhaps the epitome of Jack of All Trades: a sometimes schizophrenic blend of raunchy jokefest, chick flick, buddy film, action thriller and travelogue all thrown together in one. It never truly excels at any of these disparate elements, but manages to blend them all into a decent, if somewhat forgettable watch, thanks mostly to its committed performances.
The lead of The Spy Who Dumped Me (ugh, couldn’t they have chosen a less cheesy title?) is Audrey Stockman (Mila Kunis), a pleasant if underachieving girl who meets the enigmatic Drew (Justin Theroux) at a party one day. The two end up dating, only for Drew to break Audrey’s heart by unexpectedly parting ways with her and disappearing.
Audrey’s best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon, who gets most of the film’s best lines) does her best to cheer her up. But things are complicated after it is soon revealed that Drew was actually an undercover CIA agent.
Audrey gets entrusted with Drew’s last mission, which sees her and Morgan scamper all across Europe, all the while pursued by a mysterious group of villains. Also on the mission is Drew’s handsome ex-colleague Sebastian (Sam Heughan)… but whose side is he really on?
The film is best when it remembers it’s a zany comedy. Jokes fly fast and furious, and while some of them fall really flat, many will definitely raise a good chuckle.
Kunis is a decent straight woman to McKinnon, who does what she does best – play fast-talking, ‘no-filter’ females who seem to live in their own surreal worlds. While the pair may not have fantastic chemistry, watching them go from one ridiculous situation to another is sufficiently entertaining.
Director Susanna Fogel’s film is packed with oddball supporting characters, most of whom are used well. Particularly fun is Duffer (Hasan Minhaj), Sebastian’s high-strung partner who brings up his educational credentials in everything he says, and Tess (Lolly Adefope), Audrey’s friend who specialises in backhanded compliments. Also look out for one of the most random “appearances” by an international political figure!
While the comedy stuff is mostly good, the spy stuff? Not so much.
The mission Audrey and Morgan find themselves on is pretty generic, and mostly serves as a method of sending its leads to exotic European destinations (which we never really see enough of, honestly).
Gillian Anderson adds poise to her appearance as CIA head Wendy, but she barely makes an impact due to the small size of her role.
The film’s action scenes, however, are rather nicely crafted, and are unexpectedly brutal. Not brutal as in over-the-top in a comedic way, mind you, but genuinely rather gory. At times you wonder if this movie is parodying the hyper-violent nature of some of these thrillers, or secretly wants to be one of them. This, however, does result in one of the film’s most memorable characters, Nadedja, (Ivanna Sakhno) a mostly-silent, stone-cold model/assassin who uses gymnastics techniques in her brutal interrogations.
The film also slows down at times for establishing “character depth”, where the characters ruminate on what just happened to them and how this will change their life. These, honestly, feel rather contrived. It’s there mostly to prove to critics that there’s more to this story than just raunchy jokes or action stunts. These scenes are destined to be fast-forwarded by anyone who ends up watching this film on DVD.
Overall, The Spy Who Dumped Me is mostly entertaining, although it is a bit neither here nor there.
Fans of Daniel Craig-style James Bond grittiness might find it too wacky, while fans of Austin Powers-type shenanigans will probably find it not wacky enough. Still, you could certainly do much worse than a film like this.
The ending seems to leave things open for a sequel: judging from the potential in this one, it certainly may be worth catching.
Catch this movie at Golden Screen Cinemas nationwide. Follow GSC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Director: Susanna Fogel
Cast: Kate McKinnon, Mila Kunis, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson