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Review: Atomic Blonde (2017)

Credit: 87Eleven & Focus Features

Action & drama tango as Charlize Theron kicks ass all over Berlin.

Written by,
Sean Wall

Based on Sam Hart‘s 2012 graphic novel ‘The Coldest City‘, Atomic Blonde has the heighten drama accompanied by the action portrayed in the trailer. The novel much like the film revolves around a spy who has to find a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Director David Leitch using the bone-crushing Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) on a thrill ride to save the lives of agents and prevent the prolonging of the Cold War—John Wick style.

After all the teasing Atomic Blonde struggles with its own script but it truly does have a lot going for itself. Despite all it the shortcomings you will still have fun watching it happen as the ass-kicking moments will provide you a forgiveness of the head-scratching by the times the movie’s over.

For the past few years, Theron has been greatly typecasted as these badass characters with the vengeance by her side. Leitch takes Charlize Theron‘s Lorraine as a single-minded character that is entirely cold-blooded and self-important. There are various times where Leitch tries to convince us that she has actual human emotions separate from her ruthless persona. Delphine (Sofia Boutella), a French operative, is the only one who rattles the rugged agent to express this emotional response. On the other side, David Percival (James McAvoy) plays with Lorraine in multiple ways that words from her superiors begin to reign true throughout the film.

The film opens up with a man dressed in a robe running away from someone in 1989 Berlin and Lorraine sitting an ice bath. As she rises from the water, there are visible cuts and bruises all over her back, face, and arms. Later, Lorraine is interrogated by her bosses Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and Chief C (James Faulkner) along with a CIA agent, Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman), which adds a mysterious twist to the film as Lorraine tells her side of the story from ten days ago. Personally, the first act of the film is a slow approach than what was teased but it’s needed to explain the story in a way that broadens the story of Lorraine and her contacts. Within all that slow pace we do see a sharp, stylized eye that has a sprinkled sense of humor easing some of the boring moments. In this film, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski share this love of referencing classical art and cinema that you can’t miss it if you tried especially with the setting of Cold War paranoia and end-of-days vibe.

Despite the slow pace and styling of aesthetics, the action is simply incredible. Although choreographic, you’ll be shocked at the brutality being shown primarily by, Lorraine herself—mind you Theron is doing all these fights on her own. Theron is more than up to the task, where her physicality grounding and believable, and though Lorraine dishes out plenty of damage. The height of this ass-kicking brutality is later in the film when Lorraine just goes John Wick on the KGB hitmen taking place mostly in an apartment building stairwell. This goes on for minutes and involves multiple fights with multiple usages of fists, feet, guns, knives, automobiles, and various items around the area. While watching the fights they do succeed at making every blow looking like it hurts. From people, including Lorraine getting devastated in these fights.


Credit: 87Eleven & Focus Features

The story does get a little muddled as you try to figure things out but you get thrown off in seconds and it plays with five characters which don’t seem like enough to support. The ending is the true test of this as they try to be clever for its own good as it plays the twist card, which makes it hard to track any real personality traits or motivation that’s given. It becomes hard to invest in any character when you try to make your audience jump through hurdles to figure out the story.

Overall, director David Leitch puts so much into the visual and phenomenal action sequences that it’s a good take on the action genre from a man who’s formerly a stunt double. Atomic Blonde is no Wonder Woman but it has the caliber to get those who always wanted a kick-ass female agent into spy films. Fueled by glowing neon and an infectious ’80s power pop soundtrack, Atomic Blonde provides a different approach than most spy films that you’ll enjoy.

Rating: 4-5stars

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