The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

“Women can be terrorists too.”

Comedy is a hard genre to find any sort of uniform, easily tailored success within, and The Spy Who Dumped Me shows that a bloated belly can be as unflattering to look at as it is difficult to properly fit. Too long with its improvisation and too curt with its well-done action sequences, The Spy Who Dumped Me places most of its effort in the wrong spots, and what could’ve been a killer, off-kilter spy story ends up being something that’s disingenuous and discombobulated. Chances are you’ll remember and leave it the same as you would after an endless buffet meal…physically overstuffed and intellectually unfulfilled.

Audrey (Mila Kunis) doesn’t know where she stands with her beau Drew (Justin Theroux). No texts, no calls, no FaceTime. What’s the deal? Just so happens that he’s off being an undercover spy, a key piece of info that Audrey hasn’t been privy to. A gunfight ensues and a package with secret info is put in Audrey’s possession. Her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) – an electric shock to the chest of a movie that feels half dead half of the time – tags along on a Euro trip to deliver the cryptic message. Their hijinks always have a hitch to them that adds stupid weight, and it tends to feel a bit too uniform within the oopsie daisy fraction of the spy film genre. That they’re both being funny feels merely compensatory towards an action movie that simply can’t make such a slow place ever become complimentary.

There’s decent chemistry between Kunis and McKinnon, and they don’t stretch their characters much further outside their playground lines. Why should they? It’s palatable after all. Yet what surprises in the opening third becomes cold, processed and packaged product by the end, and their relationship begins to matter less and less. The Spy Who Dumped Me cares more about setting up the plot twist of its adversary than it does about uplifting the cause of its female leads, and while it doesn’t completely devalue the picture, it continually undercuts and underestimates what’s being sold. The more genre classifications the movie takes on, the more unbecoming and tiresome it tends to be.

Surprisingly, Susanna Fogel’s film works better during its big set pieces than it does during the heavily forced and faded improv from Kunis and McKinnon (a supreme talent directors of all kinds haven’t been able to properly harness). There’s a tremendous, 007 worthy shot early on where the camera follows Thereoux (presumably his stunt guy) jumping out a window in one fluid take. Fogel and her crew do solid work when they’re trying to be precise, and the director loses her grip when she allows the performers too much room to play and explore. The Spy Who Dumped Me refuses to simply divorce us through a plain text or delivered papers; instead the picture lectures through a pointless spiel. How it begins and how it ends hardly matter at all, which tells me this film chose to speak before really thinking.

“You’re a little much.”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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