Film Weekly

Good but graphic

August 8 - 14, 2018

Gulf Weekly Good but graphic

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux

Director: Susanna Fogel

Genre: Action comedy

Rating: 15+

RUNTIME: 117 Mins


Action-packed within the first 10 minutes, The Spy Who Dumped Me is an amusing yet over-ambitious piece of work, coming across merely as some sort of spy film – ‘some sort’ being the operative phrase.

The tones of the movie are extremely varied. While this could have been a good thing, it translates as incongruous. Though the amount of action and comedy is issued equally throughout the course of the film, the same cannot be said for violence, which is overdone and more often than not, out of place.

Along with punching, kicking and neck-snapping, we experience bloodshed right after a slapstick joke. The degree of violence is by no means thrilling, only inappropriate in relation to the light-hearted satire. It isn’t a bloodbath per se, just enough stabbing and slicing to make the faint-of-heart squeamish. Not to mention the graphic language that, again, ruins the comedic ambience in its overindulgence. The general dynamic of the film is confused, which is probably its biggest flaw.

The plot itself is unoriginal, unrealistic, and bizarre. Two friends racing through Europe with CIA agents and assassins hot on their trail, all hungry for – as clichéd spy jargon goes – ‘the package.’ Entertaining in its entirety, this is predominantly down to Kate McKinnon’s charismatic performance.

In terms of character, there is a striking chemistry between Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon). Kunis portrays the caring and sometimes naïve protagonist, Audrey, who is complemented by Morgan’s quirky daring personality. Watching this pair together, you can’t help but smile at their immature cracks, crazy stunts, and heartfelt displays of true friendship. Kunis’s cool demeanour, the actress’s ability to speak with her eyes alone, is thoroughly realised, while McKinnon’s commitment to her role is outstanding.

McKinnon is the star of the show in the comedic aspect, bringing to life a brilliant character who cannot be taken seriously. Her ridiculous facial expressions, enthusiastic gestures, and execution of lines both English and French are hilarious. Other characters’ attempts at puns and sarcastic remarks are paled in comparison. This is to say the least, considering the movie’s running humour is very dry, and McKinnon is the only remotely funny character.

Another notable performance is that of Ivanna Sakhno, who plays gymnast-assassin, Nadedja. Watching the Ukrainian actress is both mesmerising and perturbing; her glare icily fits the term ‘if looks could kill.’ As one of the movie’s less verbal antagonists, her introduction is enthralling. Sakhno successfully demonstrates the sadism that is prerequisite to her role, in biting composure. And yet, between acrobatics and murders, this initial impression becomes progressively less impressive as the plot continues, when our perception of the character shifts from mysterious to unequivocally insane. The physical strains of her role are evident in gymnastics sequences, which the assassin utilises as a weapon of torture that, albeit flawlessly executed, are not pleasant to watch.

The Spy Who Dumped Me tries to be too many things simultaneously, resulting in an imbalance of emotion. We can only sympathise with Audrey in the final scenes of the movie, when her character development comes all at once and far too suddenly to be convincing. We don’t connect with anyone else, so deaths do not have the impact they should. Perhaps not the most significant detail in an action film, but this fact emphasises the pace of the movie. In between dodging bullets, high-intense chasing, and escaping danger in the nick of time – everything happens too fast, too insubstantially to truly sink in.

Showing in: Cineco, Seef I, Saar, Wadi Al Sail, Mukta A2


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