Atomic Blonde comes to us from the uncredited director of the first John Wick movie and the upcoming Deadpool 2. It’s based on the graphic novel, The Coldest City, and once again solidifies Charlize Theron as one of the toughest women in Hollywood.
In Atomic Blonde, Theron plays Lorraine, an undercover MI6 agent who travels to Berlin in late 1989. She attempts to investigate her partner’s mysterious death, but finds herself right in the middle of a power struggle between agents from England and Russia.
You could look at this movie two ways. This sets Theron as the butt-kicking female John Wick. On the other hand, it’s a riff on the plot from the first Mission: Impossible, but only adds a stylish ’80s vibe. However, if you are only here to see incredible action scenes, you’ll be disappointed at the plot that fills (with filler) the gaps until the next glorious fight scene.
It’s rare that I’d want a story to go away to serve only meaningless action, but the choreography and brutality of it all, will make Atomic Blonde stand out for its depiction of close-quarter combat. Theron throws herself right into the action and it shows, as many of the fights are shot with long takes and not the quick cuts we’re all used to.
While she may have a few missteps in movies like F8 of the Furious, Theron proves that she is one of the most confident actors around. She commands the screen so well, that even James McAvoy seems to be disappear in the background. The cast is also rounded out by fantastic character actors; Toby Jones and John Goodman.
The style of the movie fits the grimy locale of 1989 Berlin. The soundtrack blares moody hits of the decade, and while it feels a bit like it’s trying to force you to remember that the movie takes place in the ’80s, it’s still great music all the same.
The aesthetics, action and performances are all great in Atomic Blonde, but the plot sadly goes for convention and predictability. Those aspects work well in standard action flicks, but here they keep complicating the plot with unnecessary characters and subplots, that it feels that the weak payoff is somehow earned. I’m disappointed because there are amazing scenes, like the staircase fight and a high speed chase, but they are few and far between some clunky storytelling.
I liked the style of Atomic Blonde and silently cheered several times for great and violent moments, but if I ever had to watch it again, I’d probably fast forward to every fight scene. B-