Atomic Blonde Film Review
Ever since Mad Max- Fury Road, (we) the fans have become accustomed to seeing Charlize Theron in bad-ass roles. I’m not complaining about it… I actually applaud it. It’s rare for an actress over 40 in Hollywood to get offers like hers where she can show not just her talent for acting but also her stamina and physical endurance in amazing fight scenes. Well in Atomic Blonde… she got the chance to do that once more.
Charlize in Atomic Blonde is Lorraine Broughton. A top-level MI6 field agent sent to Berlin, before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Around that time, a MI6 agent was killed by a double agent and a micro-film with a list of other agents has been stolen from him. With the help of David Percival (James McAvoy), an eccentric agent already based in Berlin, she needs to find the list but that will prove to be more difficult than she anticipated.
I think Atomic Blonde has just 2 purposes. To make Charlize Theron a James Bond/fame fatale/sexy action hero that we need and want, and… wait… my bad…the movie has only one purpose. Yes maybe the movie failed to become the spy action/masterpiece that was naively longed by the fans of the genre (and of Charlize), but it did however with some flaws and issues gave us 115 minutes of visual fun. And I mean visual crazy fun.
Coupled with the fantastic and eclectic soundtrack that includes New Order, Public Enemy, Nena, David Bowie, George Michael, The Clash, Depeche Mode, Atomic Blonde is a joy to be seen and heard. I mean it. Just don’t make the mistake and engage in the actual development or god forbid connecting the dots between the plot twist and the characters. You see… there are several sides of that and none of them is particularly working. We have the interrogation scenes that are set in the present time but, are used as a tool to reflect on the prior events.
There are the scenes in Berlin which take the majority of the runtime, and are predominately filled with action. There are periodical flashbacks of Loirraine’s love affair with fellow agent (that are just a handful and not leading us anywhere) and there are the in-between scenes that show the political events in the exact time she’s in Berlin. The fall of Berlin Wall. Those are just informative and do not blend in the story, as the screenwriter wanted apparently to make the movie non political. The plot development is sometimes twisted in a knot and sometimes it suffers from serious pacing problems, characters lacking purpose and obvious plot holes I’ve previously mentioned, but Theron’s acting and her action scenes are actually what you’re in for.
Theron is truly fantastic in the role of Lorraine Broughton. Cool as the ice baths that she bathes in and the Stoli’s on ice that she gobbles down. This is probably the second most demanding role of the Academy Award winner’s career. Next to Furiosa of course. Yes she’s bad ass here, but if you pay a close attention to the outfits she wears, not to the punches she gives to her male enemies, she’s mostly wearing black and white outfits here. Yup.
Almost every single piece of clothing has black and white colors on it. They don’t particularly scream 80’s chic, but I suppose the colors symbolize the (black and white) double live she leads as a spy. But frankly there is never a hint about that. You’ll have to guess it for yourself. James McAvoy is equally terrific as the twitchy, ambiguous and slightly crazy David Percival but you can clearly see that he’s enjoying himself in the role. Even slightly more than Charlize, and that is fantastuc. And while James and Charlize are amazing, the rest of the actors are underused, severely underestimated and stuck in cliché boring characters. Which is a shame because Tobey Jones, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan and Bill Skarsgård in those roles.
But if we talk about the action scenes… you can have your pick of favorites sure. For me though… truly hands down probably the best not just in the movie (but probably in the last decade or so) is the 8 minutes long fight scene in single take tracking shot. But for better or worse, this is Charlize’s movie. Director David Leitch is there just to glide her through the scenes, but in the end she owns them. She owns the movie. And yet…. Atomic Blonde is not a bad movie by any means.
Given the fact that there are very few movies like this and even fewer with a great actress in the lead… Atomic Blonde could have been so much better, with a little more effort in the script. In the present state it’s just a good old fun action movie. Too bad… could have been a classic.