Film Review: ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ Is a Summer Action Movie for the Ladies

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If film year 2018 should be known for any one thing, it is that women ruled the silver screen.

From dark, family-themed horror to a jewelry heist to middle school, female-centric stories are the story on the big screen. And that doesn’t even begin to explore all the ways women are dominating television.

The latest female-driven movie to hit theaters is “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” a buddy comedy that manages to use every common espionage movie trope to tell the story of two accidental spies.

Mila Kunis is Audrey, an aimless woman of thirty who works at Not Trader Joe’s. The only excitement in her life comes in the form of her unpredictable best friend, Morgan (Kate McKinnon). In addition to lamenting her unexciting life, Audrey is also mourning her latest breakup. After a year of dating bliss, her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) has dumped her in the most annoying way possible: via text message.

But, of course, the breakup isn’t just a breakup and Audrey soon finds herself in the back of a sketchy van, learning Drew was a spy with a big mission. And then guns and violence ensue and Audrey and Morgan suddenly find themselves bound for Vienna with a British agent, Sebastian (Sam Heughan) in tow.

Kunis and McKinnon may not be quite as electric as Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett was in “Ocean’s 8,” but watching their friendship unfold is pretty close to perfect. Their bond feels real and natural because they play off of each other the way women really do. Too many films want to force women to compete, to be easily riled up, to fight. But “The Spy Who Dumped Me” doesn’t try to inflict bitterness or jealousy upon its leads. Kunis and McKinnon are genuinely funny women, and in this film they are at their best when they are together. McKinnon earns a lot of praise–and rightly so–for stealing this show. But she gets to do that because Kunis gives her plenty of room.

The supporting cast is a hodgepodge of players that are varying degrees of interesting. Sam Heughan’s Sebastian is fine. Fans of “Outlander” will certainly enjoy wondering whether or not to trust him. The same goes for Justin Theroux as Drew. He tells Audrey not to trust anybody. Is he also warning her not to trust him? I could tell you, but then I’d have to…well, you know.

Gillian Anderson makes an appearance as the head of Britain’s MI6. She’s the serious, unsmiling boss and Morgan’s admiration draws some giggles.

The other character who commands a lot of attention is Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno) a Ukrainian assassin who moonlights as a model and a gymnast. When not working on her balance beam routine, Nadedja also enjoys torture and death. She is a woman of few words but always manages to get her point across. Usually in the most unpleasant way possible.

One thing this movie has that a lot of female-led films don’t is action. Sure, there are a lot of movies that give women decent action moments. But there are not enough female-driven action movies. Especially any that are quite as violent as “The Spy Who Dumped Me.” It’s loud with explosions, gunfire, and carnage. Many windows were harmed in the making of this movie.

The story comes together under the leadership of Susanna Fogel, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay with David Iserson. This story in this way could only have been told with a woman in charge. The fact that so many of the critical naysayers are men is very telling. This isn’t a movie strictly for women. But it is one that women are more likely to appreciate.

“The Spy Who Dumped Me” isn’t a perfect movie. But much like Paul Feig’s similarly themed “Spy,” this manages to find the heart in the middle of the laughs, action, and intrigue.

“The Spy Who Dumped Me” is distributed by Lionsgate and is in theaters now.

GRADE: (★★★)