Director: David Leitch
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones
Studio: Focus Features
Runtime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: In Theaters Friday, July 28, 2017.
What do you get when you take one-third cold war thriller, one-third 80s mix tape, and one-third hardcore action? Well, in reality, you don’t get anything but for the sake of this introduction, these three elements result in Atomic Blonde.
Set during the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin wall, Atomic Blonde follows Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) who is sent to investigate the death of a fellow agent, and to recover a list of double agents. While in Berlin, she forms an uneasy alliance with station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) as the two navigate the divided city and try to survive a deadly game of spy vs spy.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Atomic Blonde since I first heard about it I’m a huge fan of John Wick (2014), which filmmaker David Leitch co-directed, so naturally I was excited for what could be one of the best action films of the summer. And while not without its flaws, Atomic Blonde absolutely delivers, solidifying Leitch as one of the best action directors working today.
Theron is an absolute badass as Lorraine. She’s sarcastic, sensual, and has a ‘take no-prisoners’ attitude resulting in a character that is relentlessly entertaining. She shares outstanding chemistry with McAvoy whose character David acts as the sublime counterbalance to her Lorraine. McAvoy plays his character with a healthy mix of chaos and discipline so you never know what he’s going to do next.
Atomic Blonde is a tour-de-force when it comes to its action. It’s visceral, bloody, violent, and an absolute blast to watch. Every sequence is filmed with precision and focus with long steady shots that never disorients you. In one action sequence, which leaves you awestruck, involves Lorraine taking on waves of enemies as she makes her way through a building. This scene is so impeccably executed in its choreography and cinematography that it will surely be talked about for years.
Atomic Blonde’s action is made even more fun thanks to its soundtrack. The film boasts killer tracks of various 80s hits which make the action sequences play out like hyper-violent music videos. Whether it’s Blue Monday set to an assassination or I Ran serenading a high-speed car chase, one is bound to find themselves with the soundtrack still playing in their head long after the film ends.
Where the movie falls short of perfection is within its story. It follows every spy film trope complete with double agents, set-ups, and a villain that’s obvious from the get-go. While Atomic Blonde executes the generic story well, and does have fun with it, the lack of a truly compelling plot causes some parts to drag as you’re just waiting for the next adrenaline rush to occur.
McAvoy’s character, although highly entertaining, suffers from the generic writing. The arc David goes through is predictable, and every moment you think Atomic Blonde will surprise you with a twist, it unfortunately goes in the direction you’d expect. I wish that such a complex character would have an equally or even more complex story.
The film bounces between time periods — the past when Lorraine is on her mission, and the present as she is interrogated by her superiors, played by John Goodman and Toby Jones, about what occurred during her time in Berlin. While their characters aren’t terribly complex outside of being by-the-book officials, they help pick up the pace of the story and which leads to some hilariously deadpan moments.
Leitch’s direction captures cold war era Berlin flawlessly. From the militarized crossing zones, the neon heavy nightclubs of the west, and the civil unrest of the east, the city is a character in and of itself. The cold war has never looked so beautiful.
Despite the issues with the overall plot, Atomic Blonde is a must-see for action-junkies. With a kick-ass heroine, a catchy soundtrack, and memorable sequences, this movie is one fun time at the theater.
Atomic Blonde is in theaters July 28.
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All Photos: ©2017 Focus Features LLC. All Rights Reserved
© 2017, Dustin Kogler. All rights reserved.
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