Film: The Spy Who Dumped Me

Based on the trailer, I was expecting to get a kick out of The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018), but not much more than that. It ended up being far more enjoyable than I expected. A wacky, energetic send-up of the modern spy thriller, it’s an origin story of sorts for the accidental espionage career of Audrey Stockton (Mila Kunis), an average American nobody who learns her ex-boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) is secretly a CIA agent. After an extended disappearance, Drew returns, pursued by enemies he leads to Audrey’s door. When Drew is killed in front of her, Audrey, with the spirited assistance of her oddball BFF Morgan (Kate McKinnon), sets off for Europe to carry out his final mission, becoming hopelessly entangled in a violent, chaotic web of international intrigue.

The Spy Who Dumped Me retreads ground that will be familiar to viewers of the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Spy: a woman-centered, extended fusion of violent action-adventure and zany sketch comedy. But I enjoyed it quite a bit more, thanks primarily to the adorable comedic stylings of its heroic duo: Kunis is an appealing comic protagonist, and McKinnon, as usual, is a riot. I also preferred this one’s starker tonal fusion of SNL-like gags and ultraviolent action setpieces. The Spy Who Dumped Me’s action is considerably more excessive than expected, not exactly couching its violence in the expected veneer of fantasy; as such, it has a cumulative effect, its extreme violence played to comic absurdity. Combined with a sure-handed delivery of spy-fi plot tropes, I think it’s a more balanced mash-up than Spy, which to me felt more “comedy-forward.” Even so, if these two films are evidence of an emerging subgenre, consider me onboard—hope it does well!

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