Within a year that has already brought us some bad ass women, Atomic Blonde kicks it up to a whole new level. Where Wonder Woman is a hero for girls to look up to, this action thriller gives us a woman to cheer for and be fearful of, all at once. Charlize Theron proves once again that she can tough it out as an action star and make it look good.
Set in November of 1989, just days before the fall of the Berlin wall, MI6 Agent Lorraine Broughton is assigned to Berlin after another MI6 agent is killed. The film is set after the events of the film have already taken place, in which she is being interrogated on her actions by Eric Gray (Toby Jones), an MI6 official, and Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman), a CIA Official.
Tasked with hunting down a valuable list of double agents, Broughton is swept up into a tangled web of spies as soon as she lands. She teams up with David Percival (James McAvoy), a CIA agent who is searching for the missing list, and who weaves back and forth across the wall to get what he wants. Along the way she comes across Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella), a French Intelligence agent, as well as the bloodthirsty KGB Chief ‘C’ (James Faulkner), who is also on the hunt. As Broughton investigates the MI6 agent’s death, she uncovers information about various other plots of deception. With KGB, MI6, CIA, and French Intelligence hot on her tail, Broughton must piece together the clues before she is caught in someone’s crosshairs.
Where this movie shines is in the action sequences and the stylistic choices that director David Leitch (John Wick) has blended together seamlessly to create a gritty thriller that feels posh and sexy as hell. Set to a backdrop of 80’s synth pop music such as Blue October and David Bowie, the music heightens the tension and immerses the audience in 1980’s Germany. That is when the music is not heavy-handed as it is in some of the less action-driven scenes. However, paired with the sleek costume design and the nostalgia of movies where everyone smokes and drinks Stoli on the rocks, this film feels like a neon nod to classic James Bond.
The storyline can be a bit hard to follow as it is one that demands your attention at all times. Blink and you will miss the small expression that gives a character away or the subtle line of betrayal that sets things in motion. At times the plot does seem a bit loose, but as the action ramps up in the third act, the curtain is thrown back, and what seemed unimportant before will have you guessing who is truly right and wrong, long after you leave the theater.
That’s not the only reason to see this film. While it’s a decent spy thriller, it is above all else “kick ass and take names” kind of movie. Jon Valera, the same fight coordinator for The Bourne Legacy, John Wick, and the upcoming Thor: Ragnorok, drives the fight scenes with unrelenting force. This, combined with tight cinematography makes the fights feel visceral and one continuous movement as Charlize Theron takes down KGB who just refuse to give up. Anything and everything is used as a weapon, and at more than one point the villains tenacity is almost humorous, until another ferocious hit from Broughton finally puts them down for good. The pacing and brutality of the fight scenes will leave you on the edge of your seat.
For those of you who enjoy bad ass women, this film is worth the watch, and for those of you not sure, go see it anyway. It is a stunning example of exemplary fight choreography and dedication by its primary players. It is what a Bond film should be; intrigue, lies, sex appeal, and a whole lot of ass-kicking.
About Atomic Blonde
Synopsis: An undercover MI6 agent (Charlize Theron)is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. She is assigned to a CIA agent (James McAvoy) who she may not be able to trust as she untangles the web of lies known as Berlin.
Director: David Leitch
Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Stars: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Sofia Boutella
Runtime: 1 Hour, 55 Minutes