One of the best moments in “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” an uneven but often funny action-comedy, gets at the essence of its feminist satire: Kate McKinnonis tied up, bloodied, and completely at the mercy of her cold-blooded captor. But instead of crying for help, she retorts, “Please go fuck yourself,” setting all the signifiers of a damsel in distress ablaze. After stealing the show time and again in supporting roles during her off-seasons from “Saturday Night Live,” McKinnon finally scores a lead in “Spy” that foregrounds her brilliant capacity to tear apart familiar faces and tropes with constant glee, and she outpaces this discardable entertainment every step of the way.
McKinnon’s near-subversive feistiness usually outpaces whatever comedic vehicle she lands in — “Ghostbusters” would have been saved if she’d taken center stage — almost to the point where filmmakers seem coy about giving her too much space. In “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” she’s not only the star, but at least this time she has a decent partner in crime. Mia Kunis takes on the straight role as the pair play carefree pals inadvertently drawn into an espionage crisis, a violent odyssey of double-crossings, shootouts, and a lot of bonding time in between the mayhem. Director Susanna Fogel (“Life Partners”) doesn’t break the rule book for the fish-out-water espionage romp that’s been in place at least since 1979’s “The In-Laws,” but the movie maintains an endearing shaggy-dog quality as long as the women take charge.