Friday, August 24, 2018

The Spy Who Dumped Me [2018]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L) (2 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (K. Rife) review

The Spy Who Dumped Me [2018] (directed and cowritten by Susanna Fogel along with David Iserson) is a fun if at times trashy "spy chick flick."  Directed, cowritten and principally starring women, it makes for a joyful "turn about" to the generally "women as eye-candy" or "ice cold bad-A" conventions of the genre. 

Random / average NY 30-something Audrey (played by Mila Kunis) begins the film absolutely furious because her suddenly strangely absent boyfriend Drew (played by Justin Theroux) appeared to dump her by text.  Turns out he's absent because he's a spy, turns out he dumped her because he wants to keep her out what he's gotten himself involved in -- searching for a tiny flash drive that contains all kinds of super important / super nefarious information on it, that half the world's spies are looking for.  Well, like it or not, Audrey finds herself sucked into this intrigue anyway when she finds herself abducted, straight off of a NY street) for a while by an MI-6 agent named Sebastian (played by Sam Heughan) doing so, again, "to protect her." 

Protect her from what?  Well Audrey and her BFF Morgan (played wonderfully in her bouncing off the walls / "I have nothing but caffeine in my veins" utterly unpredictable manner by Kate McKinnon) decide to go to Europe to find this flash drive that everybody is looking for (and some think that she somehow has already anyway).

And the rest of the story unspools from there ... 

Part of the joy of the movie for me was that the movie plays out across Europe, pretty much ALL OF EUROPE and so (I thank Ukrainian descended Mila Kunis or Kunišová for this) Eastern Europe -- Lithuania, Hungary, the Czech Republic is not given the short shrift.  Yes, we get to see an amusing scene with Audrey and Morgan trying to figure out how to pronounce where all the trains nominally departing a Viennese train station are going to -- but just try to pronounce a random Hungarian place name, or for that matter a Czech one (if you don't know how to do it ;-).

But then there are some real gems here.  The part of the film that plays out in the Prague is introduced WITH AN AUTHENTIC 1960s CZECH COVER of the Nancy Sinatra song "These Boots are Made for Walking" (the Czech cover was called "Boty proti Lásce" or "Boots against Love" basically the same idea ...).  Again THANKS MILA!!  This was part of the reason why Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Soviets in 1968: the whole culture was taking its cues from the West rather than from the East. 

Anyway, the story trots across back and forth across the whole of continental Europe and Audrey / Morgan, though entering this world / "spy game" as neophytes at the beginning quickly learn, and improvising (having their own networks of friends and families, as well as skills that "regular spies" would never have thought of) soon hold their own.  Indeed, there's a "fight scene" in a staid Viennese cafe where by the end, these two women will have used every implement / instrument in that whole cafe _as a weapon_  It's brilliant and funny ;-).

So overall, while at time raunchy (the R-rating is probably deserved) it makes for a fun woman/girl-centric spy-buddy movie.  Good job!

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