Directed by: David Leitch
Written by: Kurt Johnstad
Based on: The Coldest City by Antony Johnston & Sam Hart
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman
Charlize Theron is amazing, not only for her unquestionable beauty, or her unquestionable abilities as an actress, but also for her choice of material and her willingness and confidence to let it all hangout on the screen.
Now on the heels of her scene-stealing action performance in Mad Max: Fury Road, comes Atomic Blonde to firmly plant her feet in the legacy of a true action hero. With the ferocity of a jungle cat, Theron jumps into dozens of dazzling fight sequences so staggering in their execution that you forget she’s wearing designer clothes with spiked heels; and that brothers and sisters is something else again.
Here’s the storyline:
The year is 1989, the Berlin Wall is about to fall, and MI6 Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is dispatched there tasked with recovering a secret list that could change the balance of power in the “Cold War.” Her contact in Berlin is Station Chief David Percival (McAvoy), an eccentric character with a murky agenda with whom she’s forced to form an uneasy alliance. Amid the city’s New Wave music, sexy neon lighting and fervent partying, it soon becomes obvious that to accomplish her ‘impossible mission’ and stay alive, she’ll have to use all her extensive talents; spycraft, sensuality, and mostly necessarily, savagery.
At its core Atomic Blonde is a complicated story of hidden agendas and rapid fire action that lead to a stirring conclusion.
Theron seamlessly plays the cool blonde throughout all the action sequences and hyper-real fight choreography, never leaving the character for a moment, and achieves a sort of Zen like action legacy that I hope she revisits. She even gets into some hot and heavy LGBT action that feels sensual and loving without ever being exploitative.
McAvoy, to his credit, plays his role perfectly as well, creating the East Berlin swagger and attitude of the times and milking it into an “is he good” or “is he bad” game of espionage. John Goodman shows up as a CIA boss, looking thinner than ever, but the role was so small and simple it could have been played by any actor. Performances overall were good, but the actors always played second fiddle to the action, which always looked and felt real.
The big, not to be missed action sequence, occurs toward the end of the film. It runs a full ten minutes and you’ll never forget it. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s a true film achievement, an analog laden technique, that makes you believe the action is actually happening and not done with any CGI or camera tricks. My hat’s off to Director David Leitch for creating this.
So my take…the film is very violent, not the strongest story-line in the world, but highly enjoyable, especially for lovers of this type of film.