Susanna Fogel, 117 mins, starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson, Ivanna Sakhno, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
The Spy Who Dumped Me is a goofy and energetic buddy movie which never manages to be quite as funny as you expect it to be. Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon play best friends caught up in the shady world of international espionage.
Audrey (Kunis) works in a health food shop and has just been dumped by her dashing, mysterious boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux.) He’s a spy who is away killing people in Lithuania when he texts to say their affair is over.
She still has his possessions which, on the advice of Morgan (McKinnon), she plans to burn. These include a fantasy football trophy in which is hidden a flash drive that contains huge amounts of secret data.
The plot, which makes little sense, soon sees the women racing from California to Vienna, where they are due to meet a contact at the Cafe Schiller.
McKinnon, a veteran of Saturday Night Live, is a very skilled comedienne. She has the invaluable knack of being able to convince us that her one-liners are far funnier than they actually are. She and Kunis make a likeable double act.
Some of the comic observations here hit home. At one stage, an assassin is told she needs to shoot “two dumb American women” in the centre of a European city. That doesn’t exactly narrow the target down.
From her high vantage point, the assassin looks through her rifle’s viewfinder as the tourists below - and all she can see are pairs of American women, doing ludicrously idiotic things.
Audrey hides the flash drive in her vagina - which cues plenty of predictably smutty jokes. Morgan, always the keen observer, is quick to note that Vienna’s tourism board makes more of the city’s Mozart connections than it does of its links to Adolf Hitler.
Sam Heughan (best known as the highlander Jamie Fraser in TV’s Outlander) looks like a young Roger Moore as the strapping secret service type, Sebastian Henshaw. He follows the women around Europe, trying to convince them he is on their side. The women are warned to trust absolutely no-one, advice they struggle to follow.
Given the film’s comic intentions, the violence is surprisingly graphic. During a car chase, motor bikers are killed off in every more grisly ways. Morgan has a fight to the death with a lithe-limbed adversary on the trapeze. One unfortunate man gets his face pushed into what appears to be a cauldron full of boiling custard.
The Spy Who Dumped Me covers exactly the same bases as the equally uneven Melissa McCarthy comedy, Spy. We’ve had countless other equally dumb spy spoofs with men in the leads. With their wisecracking and irreverent approach, McKinnon and Kunis just about keep this one afloat but nothing here is remotely original.
The Spy Who Dumped Me is out now.