GENERIC SPY FILM STORYTELLING BUT IS QUICKLY MADE UP FOR WITH SOME THRILLING ACTION SEQUENCES AND A SOLID CHARLIZE THERON PERFORMANCE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Charlize Theron as Lorraine in Atomic Blonde
From director, David Leitch (John Wick, No Good Deed, Deadpool 2) comes Atomic Blonde, a John Wick-esque spy thriller based on the 2012 graphic novel, The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. I’m convinced that Charlize Theron (Monster, Prometheus, Mad Max: Fury Road) and James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men franchise, Split) can do no wrong in their performances even if the movie ends up being standard or bad.
This is not at all a bad film but in terms of story it’s typical spy movie fare, if you’ve ever seen a spy movie before then you’ve pretty much already seen this movie…at least from a narrative perspective. The film immediately makes up for it with some of the best and wildest action sequences I’ve seen all year and I had already seen John Wick: Chapter 2, Baby Driver, and The Fate of the Furious.
Set in 1989 on the eve of the tearing of the Wall that ended the Cold War, the film follows a top-level spy for MI6 named Lorraine Broughton (Theron) who is dispatched to Berlin and ordered to cooperate with station chief, David Percival (McAvoy). The two of them form an uneasy alliance and unleash their full arsenal of skills and weaponry to obtain a device containing the names of every active field agent in the Soviet Union codenamed the List from a ruthless Russian-German billionaire arms dealer and leader of an espionage ring.
The film also stars John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Kong: Skull Island) as CIA agent, Emmett Kurzfeld, Til Schweiger (The Replacement Killers, Driven, Muppets Most Wanted) as The Watchmaker, Eddie Marsan (21 Grams, Mission: Impossible III, V for Vendetta) as Spyglass, Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Trek: Beyond, The Mummy (2017)) as Delphine Lasalle, Toby Jones (Harry Potter franchise, The Hunger Games 1 and 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as Eric Gray, Bill Skarsgård (Kenny Begins, Anna Karenina, The Divergent Series: Allegiant) as Merkel, James Faulkner (Bridget Jones trilogy, Hitman, X-Men: First Class) as Chief C, and Roland Moller (A Hijacking, The Shamer’s Daughter, Land of Mine) as Aleksander Bremovych.
Overall, Atomic Blonde is exciting and fun when it’s needed to be but it doesn’t quite offer a plot worthy of its badass protagonist. I was able to predict exactly what was going to happen, who would be killed, and where certain scenes were going as the film was progressing because…well, I’ve seen these movies many times before.
But with that said when the action gets going it’ll leave you on the edge of your seat, which is understandable because it’s from the same director who gave us John Wick. Bloody fist-fights, gun battles, car chases, and even a brutal stairway brawl (watch Daredevil much?) if the story was as amazing as the action and Theron’s character this could have been on par with both John Wick movies.
Theron and McAvoy pretty much make the movie, however some of the supporting cast members are pretty forgettable. Goodman is fine but he’s really just doing his new threatening persona type character that he’s already used in both 10 Cloverfield Lane and Kong: Skull Island, Boutella’s pretty forgettable here as undercover French agent, Delphine and the chick who played Gazelle in Kingsman shouldn’t be forgotten about, and Roland Moller doesn’t make much of an impression as the film’s villain, nobody in this is bad but the movie could use stronger character development.
Atomic Blonde is worth watching just for the action, Theron, and McAvoy, the story is just a generic spy film but with some badass and imaginative action sequences. It’s no John Wick or Matrix but it’s a serviceable spy action film with one Hell of a lead.