Maybe if the title was more original. I mean, we’ve already had “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” and “The Spy with a Cold Nose.”
Maybe if the attempts at broad comedy weren’t quite as forced. Unfortunately, among the myriad attempts at funny dialogue, much of it falls flat.
Maybe if instead of the film’s stars being Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon as two normal, innocent, everyday women who get caught up in a web of international intrigue, the stars were Mila Kunis and pretty much any other actress. Kunis manages to make her surprised reactions to the insanity going on around her somewhat believable; McKinnon, from start to finish, shamelessly overacts with a combination of mugging for the camera and yelling.
That’s a lot of maybes for one movie, so the odds are good (or bad) that nothing could have saved it from being a general mess. But in all fairness, “The Spy Who Dumped Me” also has a number of good elements.
Among them are far-flung locations (Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, Vienna); very strong action sequences (guns, knives, fists, foot chases, great stunt work, an unusually high body count for a comedy); and the presence of the luminous Gillian Anderson (as a higher-up in Britain’s MI6).
The plot is an ambitious one with a fresh supply of unexpected turns, but in the end, probably a few too many of them, as the two-hour running time occasionally suffers from start-stop syndrome and doesn’t exactly zip along.
It begins with some confusion, of the good sort, with two seemingly unrelated stories. In Los Angeles, sad Audrey (Kunis) is still getting over the news that her relationship with a fellow named Drew has been ended by him via a text message, and her best friend Morgan (McKinnon) is helping her cope. In Lithuania, a spy (Justin Theroux) is being chased down side streets, leaving a path of destruction behind him. It doesn’t take long for the script to reveal that the spy’s name is Drew.
In short order, a couple of inept agents approach Audrey and tell her that her ex-boyfriend is also an agent, and that he’s gone missing. Her response is something to the effect of Kyle’s mother in “South Park”: “What? What? Whaaat?”
Soon after the agents leave, Drew shows up with explanations of why he left Audrey in such unceremonious manner, then sucks both Audrey and Morgan into his world by giving them a “package” to deliver to a contact in Vienna and the warning, “Don’t trust anybody.”
From there it’s a mad rush of flashbacks showing how Drew and Audrey met, introductions to those you just know are villains — the agile assassin Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno) — and those whose motives you’re not sure about — the cool and edgy spy boss Wendy (Anderson), and a phalanx of spies from around the world, some of them with very large guns, coming after our two heroes.
It’s too bad that whenever the film gets cooking, it’s brought down a notch or two by the distraction of McKinnon’s annoying performance. The best line of dialogue actually points out that problem. In one of the flashbacks, Drew observes Morgan’s behavior, then pulls her aside and says, “Anybody ever tell you you’re a little much?”
— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Spy Who Dumped Me”
Written by Susanna Fogel and David Iserson; directed by Susanna Fogel
With Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson