LIONSGATE (2018)

 

Director: Susanna Fogel

 

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson, Hasan Minhaj

Filling a spot that belongs to typical summer pickings, The Spy Who Dumped Me should be one of those movies which is, really, a bit poo. Not because of its cast or director, but every trailer and promo just whiffed a bit of throwaway larks. Something that had a few good moments, but otherwise prattled on until its predictable ending. Actually, what we do get is a pretty solid, fun and fairly action-packed comedy crime romp with two ace ladies leading the way.

When Audrey (Kunis) finds out her AWOL boyfriend Drew (Theroux) is a CIA agent with serious bad guys on his tail, she is thrust into the action with her best friend Morgan (McKinnon) as they dodge and evade assassins across Europe in order to prevent highly classified information falling into the wrong hands.

 

Completing the dirty romance trilogy of spy films (The Spy Who Loved Me, Shagged Me and now…) The Spy Who Dumped Me is a familiarly new take up on the genre. Not new in the sense that we have two female leads, but new because this is, in fact, funny and pretty good. Surprisingly packed with decent action set pieces and broken bodies aplenty, the movie flits between genres – not always successfully during a slightly overlong story – but the humour remains throughout, especially when McKinnon is given free rein with her character.

 

The double act leads the movie well with both delivering to type – Kunis is as sweet-hearted and vulnerable as ever and McKinnon riffs the material with comedic glee. Together they work especially well, even if their character's actions begin to become a stretch. The guys in the movie are great but are very much relegated to supporting characters. For the most part, the writing is good and there is clearly room for some improv as well – thankfully, the fact that McKinnon’s character is named Morgan Freeman doesn’t become a stale joke quickly. There’s a fair amount of action to be found as well, a nicely shot restaurant fight being the best of the bunch and there are some neck-breaking and gunshot wounds galore if that’s your jam.

 

It’s the clear attempt to mix action and comedy that derails the movie more than anything else. It’s not that either element is bad, it just becomes apparent that there’s another fight going on – the fight for a balanced tone. Certain scenes attempted both when it wasn’t really necessary and helped lend to some stretches in characterisation also. Whilst the pacing of the movie was good, it could have benefitted from having a few minutes shaved off for a tighter narrative.

 

Spy send-ups are nothing new – from Austin Powers to Kingsman to Johnny English (of course, to name but a few) – and The Spy Who Dumped Me is another good addition to the party. The humour is consistent, there’s some good action and it’s better than expected – not a bad package overall.

August 28th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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