After rising to stardom on "Saturday Night Live" and stealing practically every film she's appeared in, Kate McKinnon finally gets her shot at a leading big screen role in Susanna Fogel's uneven, but entertaining R-rated action-comedy "The Spy Who Dumped Me." As far as late summer comedies go, this one is fine enough, but I'm holding out hope McKinnon gets the masterpiece she deserves someday soon.
McKinnon stars alongside Mila Kunis as Morgan and Audrey, best friends and roommates who inadvertently become mixed up in an international conspiracy when they discover that Audrey's ex-boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux) is secretly a CIA operative.
But when a group of armed baddies lay siege to Audrey's apartment and Drew is gunned down in front of them, the pair take up the mantle and fulfill Drew's dying request that they complete his mission and save the world from certain calamity. Soon they're rushing off to Vienna to deliver a very important MacGuffin, and plenty of fish-out-of-water spy hijinks ensue. Hot on the their trail is an deadly Olympic gymnast-turned-assassin (Ivanna Sakhno) and a hunky yet arrogant British agent named Sebastian (Sam Heughan), whose trustworthiness is constantly in question even if his handsomeness never is.
The script, co-written by Fogel with David Iserson, has a lot of fun playing with the gender politics of traditional spy capers. But not every joke lands, and Fogel sometimes struggles to nail that crucial balance between the comedy and action. As the espionage action begins to overpower the comedy, the film's violence turns shockingly brutal at times, leading some of those laughs to catch in the throat.
Through it all McKinnon and Kunis make an appealing team. They sell the film's underlying theme of unyieldingly supportive female friendship, as Audrey and Morgan help one another find their purpose and discover they might just have a knack for the spy game. Kunis brings charm to her straight-woman role, but this is McKinnon's show through and through. "The Spy Who Dumped Me" can be uneven in laughs and thrills, but when McKinnon's on screen that's almost good enough.