The Spy Who Dumped Me

 

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Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon play “two dumb American women” in Europe, like Laurel & Hardy trapped in an Austin Powers spoof directed by Quentin Tarantino.

 
Spy Who Dumped Me

Kate McKinnon, Mila Kunis and Kev Adams

 

As the interminable wait for the next Johnny English spy spoof draws to a close (Johnny English Strikes Again opens October 5), there’s The Spy Who Dumped Me to be getting on with. Unlike Johnny English, though, this slapstick slice of sadism is geared towards an older demographic. It’s an echo of 2015’s Spy, in which an American amateur in Europe – Melissa McCarthy’s desk-bound CIA analyst – sorts the men from the double agents. Here, though, we get two whacky Americans for the price of one, as life-long friends and soulmates Audrey and Morgan end up in Vienna, Berlin and Prague fighting for their lives. In the movies, Americans go to Europe for two reasons: to fall in love and to shoot stuff up. In recent years, Paris has been rented out to Hollywood as a makeshift motor-racing circuit, but here those all-too-familiar Uzi-wielding assassins on motorbikes in black leather get to thrash the streets of the Austrian capital. Paris pops up, too, with more inevitable gunfire and shenanigans.

 

We start off in Los Angeles, though, where Audrey (Mila Kunis) is reeling from the shock of being dumped by her boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux), by text. What she doesn’t know is that he’s actually working for the CIA and broke up with her to save her life. He is being chased by unknown assailants and begs Audrey to flee to Vienna with his fantasy football trophy and hand it over to his CIA contact there. So Audrey and Morgan, now wanted by the police for murder (it’s complicated), go straight to the airport to head for Austria. In the process, they become involved in a labyrinthine plot with an escalating body count and increasing duplicity.

 

Of late, the Ukrainian-born Mila Kunis has cornered the market in playing madcap, can-do, spunky and rather risqué women. Here, she’s joined by the even funnier Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters, Office Christmas Party, etc) to create a double-act bursting with comic potential. At times they resemble Laurel & Hardy trapped in an Austin Powers spoof directed by Quentin Tarantino. However, in spite of some amusing dialogue (Morgan: “Mom, did you get the dick pics I sent you?”) and the occasional audacious gag (at one point Edward Snowden comes to the rescue), the film is so silly and ridiculous – and frequently unpleasant – that any fun or excitement is relinquished. Even farce needs some rooting in reality and The Spy Who Dumped Me keeps the pantomime upfront. We know that Audrey is a shop assistant, so taking the first plane to Vienna without so much as a flinch is a stretch. And the exotic, icy female assassin (the Ukrainian-born Ivanna Sakhno) who kills anybody for no reason is a cliché. Still, the Scottish actor Sam Heughan makes a promising impression as the romantic interest, while Gillian Anderson is suitably straight-faced as MI6’s top brass in Paris. If only everybody else had followed their lead.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson, Jane Curtin, Hasan Minhaj, Ivanna Sakhno, Sam Heughan, Kev Adams, James Fleet, Fred Melamed, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Tom Stourton, Carolyn Pickles, Paul Reiser.

 

Dir Susanna Fogel, Pro Brian Grazer and Erica Huggins, Screenplay Susanna Fogel and David Iserson, Ph Barry Peterson, Pro Des Marc Homes, Ed Johnathan Schwartz, Music Tyler Bates, Costumes Alex Bovaird.

 

Imagine Entertainment/Lionsgate-Lionsgate.

116 mins. USA/Canada. 2018. Rel: 22 August 2018. Cert. 15.