Movie Review: ‘Atomic Blonde’
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Bill Skarsgård, James Faulker
Plot: Lorraine Broughton is a tough-as-nails MI6 agent who is sent into Berlin on to recover sensitive intelligence. What she finds is a city in turmoil and no-one she can trust.
Review: Director Leitch, the stuntman who has transitioned into film-making, has been on our radar since his involvement in director John Wick and being tapped to direct Deadpool 2. An adaptation of ‘The Coldest City’ which draws heavily on the New Wave trend of the late 1980s would is perfect, and the trailers certainly had our attention. How did it all turn out? Well…hit and miss.
Let’s look at where the film scores its hits. The style is great, and it feels like a celebration of the era. Theron’s costumes are super cool (although McAvoy seems to be cosplaying as Tyler Durden from the final scenes of Fight Club) and the soundtrack is an awesome mix tape of classic tracks. The dark atmosphere of the city contrasts nicely the neon colours of the art design. All up it’s a cool film.
The action is also fantastic, as you’d expect from a director with this resume. It’s in these scenes that the film feels most confident, with long, long takes that unflinchingly capture intense car chases and brutal beat downs. It’s great to see so many action movies where the punches feel painful. We get introduced to Lorraine bruised and beaten, creating anticipation for some serious smackdowns, and the film delivers. I wish we hadn’t seen so many of them in the trailers though.
But then we get to Lorraine (Theron), who is a really tough, stoic and…that’s it. There’s nothing else to her. The plot, on the other hand, concerns recovering a list of secret agent identities before it REALLY?! That plot’s been done so many bloody times! Mission: Impossible did it, Skyfall did it…the difference here being that the film does very little set up the consequences for this. Skyfall did show us agents being caught and murdered as a result, while in Atomic Blonde we just get Toby Jones telling us that it’s bad.
As a stylish action flick goes it’s pretty solid. In spite of the budget and star power it certainly doesn’t match the John Wick series in terms of execution and excitement. The problem is that we just couldn’t get invested in the characters of the story, they were all one dimensional and the stakes were never established.
Rating: SEVEN out of TEN