By Jack Dignan
Justin Theroux is a spy. We didn’t know it before, but he is, and now the world’s going to pay for it. Okay, so maybe Justin Theroux isn’t actually a spy, but I’d believe it, and at the very least, he plays a spy named Drew in the new spoof comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me. After going off the grid for a week, avoiding any and all calls, his ex-girlfriend Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) are wrapped into an internationally-bound conspiracy that sees these two ordinary besties thrust into life threatening situations you could only pull off in a comedy as ridiculous as this one.
Guns are a blazing, gadgets are put to good use, and Gillian Anderson’s here to be rightfully recognised as the queen we all know she is. “You are the Beyonce of the government,” McKinnon’s Morgan constantly reminds her in what’s one of the funniest reoccurring gags in the film. The Spy Who Dumped Me is a lot of fun. It’s a silly, over the top movie that never even bothers taking itself seriously, and because of that it works so well. Emotional plot beats and character arcs are kept to a minimum. Laughs, however, are dialed all the way up to eleven.
For every glimmer of seriousness, there’s also a moment in which McKinnon finds herself in a brutal battle atop of a trapeze. The central plot, I will admit, doesn’t work. It’s not only predictable and generic, falling into every spy movie cliché there is and not in a self-aware parody sort of way, but a lot of it just doesn’t make sense. It all feels very melodramatic and a drastic stretch of believability. There’s an entire sub-plot dedicated to our two protagonists finding local tourists that look like them in order to steal their passports and travel safely across the country, but like, come on. That’s never going to work.
However, even though the plot manages to fall flat, with its twists and turns often leaving the audience in a state of pure befuddlement, the two leads manage to bring this film all the way home and land it safely on the tarmac. There’s no possible reality in which a film starring both Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon is going to end up being unfunny. These two endlessly talented leading ladies share an incomparable comedic chemistry, constantly bouncing off of each other and clearly having an absolute blast doing so. Even in the many, many jokes that fall flat, they still manage to make it engaging. Perhaps a little less so with the poop gags.
Heck, even the action and stunt choreography is impressive. When hiring the stunt team behind the Bond and Bourne films, you know you’re in for some serious action, but hot damn, The Spy Who Dumped Me doesn’t hold back. It’s brutal, kinetic and shot gracefully. Rarely does it feel like a stunt double’s doing all the work. You see these actors in the scenes, kicking ass and delivering one-liners, and it works wonders. I wish I were half as cool as Mila Kunis is while murdering people.
The fact that this is getting bad reviews probably shouldn’t surprise me. It is, after all, the exact type of movie I myself have known to trash on before. It’s a generic spy comedy that adds very little to the genre, yet I found myself constantly enjoying it. It takes ten minutes or so to finds it footing, featuring the most inconsistently colour graded opening action sequence ever, and it does have a tendency to outstay its welcome and stretch the plot out to ridiculous degrees, but if you strap yourself in knowing what type of movie’s to come, there’s plenty to enjoy.
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