Arts

The Spy Who Dumped Me offers girl-powered action comedy

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon become embroiled in an international conspiracy in the comedy caper The Spy Who Dumped Me

Mila Kunis as Audrey and Kate McKinnon as Morgan in The Spy Who Dumped Me
Damon Smith

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (15, 117 mins) Action/Comedy/Drama/Romance.

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Sam Heughan, Justin Theroux, Hasan Minhaj, Gillian Anderson, Ivanna Sakhno, Paul Reiser, Jane Curtin.

Director: Susanna Fogel.

Rating: 3 stars

JAMES Bond and other chauvinistic dinosaurs of the globe-trotting spy game have nothing to fear from The Spy Who Dumped Me.

Directed and co-written by Susanna Fogel, this action-packed adventure borrows a few crowd-pleasing moves from female-centric capers The Heat and Spy to ensnare two hopelessly unprepared gal pals in a sticky web of intrigue.

Fogel's film has a licence to deliver big laughs and leading lady Kate McKinnon shoots to kill with laser-targeted one-liners and physical comedy rooted in her character's circus training at a performing arts camp, where she enjoyed a teenage romance with US government whistleblower Edward Snowden.

McKinnon is an unstoppable force of nature – bizarrely, she brings the house down with an aside about French novelist Honore de Balzac – and co-star Mila Kunis manages somehow to maintain a straight face as her partner in arms.

The plot is derivative and on-screen chemistry between Kunis and Outlander hunk Sam Heughan never threatens to boil over.

However, director Fogel masterminds set-pieces with assurance including an opening pursuit that owes its death-defying acrobatics to Jason Bourne and a screeching car chase through the streets of Vienna.

Supermarket cashier Audrey Stockton (Kunis) meets Drew Thayer (Justin Theroux) in a bar on her birthday and sparks fly as they playfully spar about the worst song on the jukebox.

Their whirlwind romance ends abruptly with Drew dumping Audrey by text.

She seeks solace in the company of 30-something best friend Morgan (McKinnon), who has a hilarious habit of oversharing with her parents (Paul Reiser, Jane Curtin).

Morgan recommends that Audrey should cleanse herself of Drew by burning his belongings.

Before the first squirt of lighter fluid, Drew re-establishes contact.

He reveals that he is an undercover CIA operative and had to terminate the relationship with Audrey because the criminal fraternity was prepared to hurt her to get to him.

Audrey is touched until bullets fly and she goes on the run with Morgan and a USB flash drive encrypted with details of a terrorist network's diabolical plans.

The women head to Austria where they cross paths with dashing MI6 agent Sebastian Henshaw (Sam Heughan).

As Audrey and Morgan learn about Drew's past, they untangle a global conspiracy and become targets for a deranged, gymnastic assassin (Ivanna Sakhno).

The Spy Who Dumped Me promotes girl power with every predictable twist and turn including some amusing interludes with Gillian Anderson's stern MI6 chief, who Morgan gushingly crowns "the Beyonce of the government".

McKinnon's boundless energy and gift for pratfalls papers over cracks in the script and catalyses a sprightly screen pairing with Kunis's comic foil, who is remarkably adept with a hand gun under pressure.

The deception and double-cross are preposterous fun, even if no-one is going to leave the cinema particularly shaken or stirred once the end credits roll.

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