The Spy Who Dumped Me Review: Mindless, lowbrow entertainment
If you’re looking to kill two hours with entertainment that doesn’t require you to think too much and makes you laugh here and there, then this may well be the film to do it with
The Spy Who Dumped Me should not get a second mention in the way of action or comedy or espionage, but despite the usual pitfalls most efforts in this genre fall prey to, it remains oddly watchable at times. However, I can’t quite put a finger on why that is so.
If you’re looking to kill two hours by tuning into entertainment that doesn’t require you to think too much and makes you laugh here and there at its slapstick gimmickry, then this may well be the film to do it with. The minute you start looking for explanations as to how or why a certain scene or situation came to be, you’ve lost the battle with The Spy Who Dumped Me. Just go with the flow, and there’s an off-chance you might even enjoy yourself in this lowbrow feature.
Director: Susanna Fogel
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan
As far as the humour goes, it is comedian Kate McKinnon who runs the show. Playing second fiddle to Mila Kunis’ more serious character, Audrey, McKinnon’s over-the-top portrayal of Morgan has the audience in two minds: whether to laugh at her or with her. As you can imagine, the plot is filled with nonstop sequences of gun-fighting, car chases, narrow escapes, conspiracy, betrayal (all of which are ridden with flaws and clichés in equal measure), but it is the bond between Audrey and Morgan that draws you in just that wee bit.
Best friends, Audrey and Morgan, discuss the end of the former’s relationship with Drew, who broke up with Audrey via text message, which is something she is unable to make sense of. Morgan has a flair for the dramatic and is the polar opposite of her more measured friend. She convinces Audrey to burn her ex’s things, and goes ahead and texts him on her behalf.
Cut to Lithuania, and Drew is browsing through a flea market with a suspicious look in his eye. He gets attacked from multiple quarters but is able to fend off the assailants with his gun. As he is about to retrieve his many passports and flee, he receives the message Morgan sent on Audrey’s phone. Drew calls Audrey and apologises, requesting her to keep his belongings safe. Audrey is befriended by Sebastian at her workplace the following day. She is unwittingly forced into a van by him and is interrogated about her connection to Drew.
The story jumps from one place to the other in a mad dash for the finish line. Relentless sequences abound at a rapid pace with half-baked explanations, with little or no continuation/context. Basic questions arise. If Drew were such a skilled agent, why would he call Audrey from his personal phone? Isn’t he aware of being tracked? When Audrey and Morgan escape with the skin of their teeth after Drew is shot dead, how is Audrey so calm and composed on the car ride? Her preoccupations are more with visiting Europe for the first time as opposed to coming to terms with the death of someone close. Sebastian gets utterly duped by Audrey when she hands him the fake statuette in the cafe. Besides, he fails to see Morgan communicating with Audrey right under his nose.
If the MI6 were to employ agents with such woeful observational prowess, one can only surmise the deplorable state of British intelligence. Lastly, Audrey takes down a would-be assassin with a shot worthy of a decorated Olympic shooter. How a novice who’s never handled a real gun in her life, let alone fired one, is able to manage such a thing without batting an eyelid, beats me.
If you pay too much heed to the above, you are sure to miss some of the funnier moments of The Spy Who Dumped Me. The scene where the leading duo commandeer a car from an elderly European couple is one such example. As soon as Audrey releases the handbrake, it dawns on her that she cannot drive stick. The car gently rolls down the slope and hits a newspaper stand as the women scream (this, despite them successfully fending off a gun-wielding group of bikers, early on).
Even the trapeze artist fight scene between Morgan and hitwoman, Nadedja, with an eager crowd believing it to be a planned performance, is especially entertaining. The film is also fitted with cameos - Morgan’s proud parents, who are more bothered with her newfound notoriety than the imminent danger she’s in; a creepy former-gymnast-turned-assassin with a mysterious backstory; a cold and efficient intelligence boss dealing with incompetent subordinates; a fictional Edward Snowden making an appearance; and a helpful backpacker with a sense of humour.
However, the only aspect that stands out from stray moments of workable humour (thanks mostly to McKinnon) is the story’s female friendship. The care/balance they bring to each other’s life is perhaps the only high point of this predominantly ordinary comedy film set in the spy genre.