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  Spy Who Dumped Me, The Duress-pionageBuy this film here.
Year: 2018
Director: Susanna Fogel
Stars: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson, Hasan Minhaj, Ivanna Sakhno, Jane Curtin, Paul Reiser, James Fleet, Carolyn Pickles, Fred Melamed, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Lolly Adefope, Ruby Kammer, Genevieve McCarthy, Kev Adams
Genre: Comedy, Action, Thriller
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Audrey (Mila Kunis) has been best friends with Morgan (Kate McKinnon) for years, and they are always there for one another through thick or thin. But she has been feeling down recently, because her boyfriend dumped her a short time before her birthday so the celebrations will be muted, no matter how much Morgan tries to buoy her mood with a party at the local bar. She actually does all right for herself, picking up a Ukrainian to take home with her, but Audrey remains a little lost - however, what she does not know is that her ex Drew (Justin Theroux) was a spy, and while she has been drowning her sorrows, he has been avoiding bullets and jumping out of buildings...

The James Bond spoof has been around ever since Dr. No cleaned up at the box office, and with its spy game descendants, Bond and Bond alike, as prevalent as ever, The Spy Who Dumped Me was yet another addition to the long, long list. This was different inasmuch as it featured two female leads, making this more a buddy movie with ladies than a straightforward 007 parody, and indeed it took its action sequences very seriously, with characters and even innocent bystanders getting killed in the crossfire or as collateral damage while our heroines did their best to escape with their lives from situations where their antagonists have no qualms about turning to murder to get their way.

In fact, if anything this was too brutal to be truly hilarious, and you may find yourself wishing director and co-writer Susanna Fogel was more concerned with witty lines than proving herself able to keep up with Bond, Bourne and Mission: Impossible in the action stakes. It was with the relationship between Audrey and Morgan that this actually scored, since we could well believe they were best pals despite the slightly strained quality of some of their banter, again they seemed to overdo it with the swearing and blue jokes to make the material distinctive as an R-rated comedy, as if Fogel had enjoyed Paul Feig's Spy so much that she took it as the template for her efforts here.

However, while Spy could have done with more discipline in the dialogue as well, this was a shade better in that it may have been trying too hard, but thanks to the chemistry of Kunis and McKinnon, there were a few decent laughs to be garnered from watching them interact, loosely with the former as the straightwoman to the latter's comic improvisations (at least, she made a lot of it sound improvised and off the cuff). While Melissa McCarthy's character in that other movie had been effectively all alone in her adventures, with nobody to encourage her or for her to sound off on, the protagonists in this always relied on their pal being there to back them up and look out for them no matter how dire the circumstances. In that way it was not quite the same as many a male-male buddy flick.

Therefore you would not find two hours in their company too painful, not as painful as the characters who ended up injured or even killed would anyway, and it was jarring that they did commit acts of wanton murder that were supposedly justified by waving off the corpses as, eh, they were bad guys anyway. Maybe if the script (co-written by David Iserson) had found a way around this, rendering the leads more innocent of what was erupting around them, it would have been easier to warm to, but as it was, with its perfunctory espionage plotting dependent on what locations they could film in around Europe, there was a scatty quality around this solid framework that showed off Kunis and McKinnon to somewhere near their best. Although this was yet another action movie that relied on possession of a flash drive for its McGuffin, fast becoming the cliché du jour of the twenty-first century, in projects good and bad, though at least it was kept in a place Bond would not be able to emulate. Music by Tyler Bates.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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