Reel Talk: ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’

August 4, 2018

Can Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon pull off a violent spy movie? The answer is a resounding yes! Co-written by Susanna Fogel and David Iserson, Fogel takes the director’s chair to give us a brutally violent and thrillingly funny film filled with preposterous situations and crazy double-crossings.

While there are a few loopholes in the film, it’s not enough to put a damper on this intensely humorous and high-paced spy spoof.

Audrey (Kunis) and Morgan (McKinnon) are best friends, but Audrey’s been dumped, via text, by her boyfriend of a year, Drew (Justin Theroux). Unbeknownst to Audrey, her boyfriend is deeply involved in CIA operations, valiantly and violently saving the world.

Upon his return and with his dying words, he places Audrey in charge of a sought-after trophy, directing her to complete the mission, trusting no one. And so begins Audrey and Morgan’s girls’ trip gone wildly bad.

The film has quite a jarringly violent start as we watch Drew in action, killing “bad guys” and responding to Audrey’s texts of promises to burn all his leftover belongings thanks to Morgan’s encouragement.

This is just a glimpse into Morgan’s crazy yet loyal behavior as Audrey’s best friend. Together, they make a vow to carry out Drew’s last request, traveling to Europe because neither of them have even been.

We get a lot of background information about Audrey and Morgan as the movie transports us back in time to a year before, when Audrey and Drew first met. Bouncing back and forth from the present time to the past allows us to really understand how close these women are and the importance of their friendship.

While the story is simply crazy as Morgan has connections all over the world thanks to her influential father (Paul Reiser) and doting mother (Jane Curtin), it’s the connection between women as friends that rises above all. You really get a sense of what female friendships are all about, and that’s what makes “The Spy Who Dumped Me” different.

Have no fear: All the markings of a spy movie are here, too. The violence is at times quite shocking, but the writers remember it’s also a comedy, so they consistently follow these unsettling images with immediately hilarious situations, taking us out of the startling violence.

There are plenty of remarkable high-speed chase scenes, crashes and stunts in the European streets that make you turn your head and gasp. The camerawork to capture all of the action is equally remarkable, bringing you into the high action complete with gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, dodging bullets and crashing during the chase scenes.

Of course, there’s a bit of a love story with Audrey and Sebastian (Sam Heughan, “Outlander”), but this is just a secondary plot, never overshadowing the primary friendship of her and Morgan.

The twists and turns of who to trust and who’s truly the enemy will have you questioning that until the very end, which just adds to the fun of this film. But again, it’s the humor that carries the story, and with McKinnon, she’s the comedic star.

The film does have its downfalls with a few issues of continuity, explanations and editing. The use of the character Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno) as an emaciated model-gymnast-hit woman is a bit confusing, but perhaps her sole purpose was to provide an understanding for the need to have a BFF.

There is a pacing issue midway through the film that halts the story slightly, but it does manage to get back on track. Again, a little bit more editing would have helped this and cut down the long running time of the film.

McKinnon and Kunis are a great pair, with McKinnon using all of her comedic skills to play off of Kunis’ traditional role. McKinnon uses the written material with absolute precision, augmenting it with facial expressions, body language and timing to give it a final punch.

From silly potty humor because of a gluten intolerance to telling her father about the accidental and self-defense killings, McKinnon can lead a film with absolute certainty. However, as the story shows us, it’s a partnership that makes the film work. It’s Kunis and McKinnon together that create such an entertaining film.

“The Spy Who Dumped Me” is great fun while it provides fans of this genre the intense action that is expected. The laughs never die even when the bodies do.

3 out of 4 stars.

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