Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones
Runtime: 115 min
Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
3 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Perfect for the summer heat, this is a fun, exciting and provocative action packed spy thriller. Atomic Blonde is based on the ONI PRESS Graphic Novel Series called “The Coldest City,” written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart. I’m quite certain they’re happy to see Charlize Theron was cast in this because she’s both incredibly steely and sexy in this screen adaptation of their character, Lorraine Broughton, a fearless MI6 agent.
Set in 1989, Lorraine is sent to Berlin around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. When she goes in for her next task, she learns of the assassination of her colleague and her lover. She is sent out to retrieve a list of highly secret agents and their codenames that was filched from him at the time of his murder by a Russian agent. As she begins her work, she glides her way through Berlin’s clubs to an awesome 80’s soundtrack, some of which I believe may have been only in her head to help her become what she must to be the badass, callous killing machine she may need to be to get the job done.
Speaking of what it takes to get the job done, she meets up with British agent David Percival (McAvoy) who she has an immediate distrust of but still builds something of a coalition with. Soon, she meets a beautiful French spy (Boutella) and is more than willing to get down and dirty and use her to get the information she needs. This movie isn’t afraid to show you exactly what that is and, much to the bewilderment of some and awe of others, we crawl in bed with these two women and stay there through a scene that can only be described as explicit. This scene gives Atomic Blonde the edge that many films before it were afraid to stroll up to and gives the director, David Leitch, a head up on the competition.
McAvoy is incredible in the role and Boutella stands out but this is a Carlize Theron film. Theron, knowing her way around Hollywood well enough, has brought us many memorable characters and Lorraine is no different. Willing to do many of her own stunts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her with several more movies of this ilk, come her way because she’s cold and brutal when she needs to be and wells with passion and warmth whenever the right moment presents itself.
There are a few scenes that are so gut wrenchingly painful looking that you’ll not only laugh at the ridiculousness of them but cheer at how bold the film is and how fully Theron committed herself to this character. There’s one scene in particular in a stairwell that is the example for my previous sentence. You’ll recall these words when you see the film. The movie itself may not be perfect but it’s exactly what you want out of a summer release. Leitch is known for his stunt work in 82 films, including Hitman: Agent 47, The Bourne Legacy, The Mechanic and many more so it’s not hard to see why the technical performances are so on the nose here.
It goes over the top as films of this genre do but I don’t think that hurt it. If anything, that is its appeal and more than makes up for the few times when the plot drags some getting to the point. Told through flashbacks, it’s colorful, stylish and memorable and something I recommend seeing at the theatre this weekend. You’ll want to see these fight sequences on the big screen.