Review: 'The Spy Who Dumped Me', Kate McKinnon Is The Action-Comedy's Deadliest Weapon

In the espionage romp The Spy Who Dumped Me, Mila Kunis is overshadowed not only by the occasionally blood-curdling R-rated violence, but by her immensely funny co-star, Kate McKinnon. As she is wont to do, McKinnon's perfect blend of dry nonsequitors and bugged out physicality dominates every scene of this imbalanced action comedy, so that you keep wondering when is Hollywood going to just let her run with a film on her own? How many times is McKinnon going to show everyone else up before she gets her shot?

That's not to say Mila Kunis is bad, but she's somehow settled into playing the frumpy lead opposite more charismatic comediennes. It doesn't help her that The Spy Who Dumped Me seems unsure whether it wants to be a feminist comedy spectacle or a Peter Berg-style action flick. Director and co-writer Susanna Fogel (of the gal pal laugher Life Partners) knows what makes female relationships click, but hangs her leading ladies out to dry when it comes to giving them funny things to say.

Kunis plays Audrey, a chronic underachiever who has just been dumped via text by her frequently-absent boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux). Turns out the dude is actually a CIA spy, and the film begins with him climbing the walls, bustin' caps like John Wick, and blowin' shit up as part of a dangerous mission. In the middle of it he gets a phone call from Audrey who, along with her BFF Morgan (McKinnon) are going to burn his stuff. This drags him back home, only to find that he's been followed by those looking to kill him.

It's a pretty shocking amount of bloodshed and death at this point. Dwayne Johnson doesn't have this high of a body count in his movies, but somehow Kunis and McKinnon do. The kill-to-joke ration is painfully out of wack. Audrey and Morgan find themselves, rather amazingly, tasked with finishing Drew's mission, which sends them to Vienna carrying a mysterious package. The meeting at a posh café turns into a bullet-riddled free-for-all that would make Jason Statham jealous. The ladies find themselves pursued by a rogues gallery of Euro baddies, including a Russian model/gymnast (Ivanna Sakhno) who is like a refugee from a Zoolander movie. There's also a hot MI6 agent (played by Outlander hunk Sam Heughan) who may or may not be on their side, some double crosses, a few well-choreographed car chases, at least one deadly showdown on a circus trapeze, but not a lot of actual laughs. While the action scenes are surprisingly top notch, they seem to be the only thing stitching this movie together, and far too often we forget this is meant to be pretty silly until McKinnon does something outrageous.

McKinnon steals everything as Morgan, an aspiring actress/feminist rebel who is totally there to support her best friend, no matter what. It's her who inspires Audrey to complete Drew's mission ("Do you want to die having never gone to Europe, or do you want to go to Europe and die?") and pushes her through every life-or-death obstacle. She's both utterly ridiculous and completely lovable. We understand it when Drew tells her in flashback that she's "a little much", but we also don't want her to tone it down even for a second. When an icy Gillian Anderson shows up as a top MI6 boss, Morgan practically drools her admiration, which then "circles around to objectification", making us laugh for multiple reasons. The problem is that McKinnon is so funny at pretty much everything that Kunis' Audrey feels like an afterthought. She gets stuck with the lame romance angle, and weak allusions to female empowerment that Fogel is never committed to The Spy Who Dumped Me being about.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5