<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by David Leitch. Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Til Schweiger, Bill Skarsgard
Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Charlize Theron seems to be typecast in these roles that give her very little to say but lots of ass to kick.
Atomic Blonde is the story of intrigue and espionage in the time just before the fall of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War. The intricacies of the plot are not important nor are they very coherent, needless to say that Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) must recover a ‘list’ and find a ‘double agent’ in Berlin, while evading all sorts of goons as well as a shady associate called David Percival (James McAvoy) who is pretty shady from the get go.
Director David Leitch has directed several action heavy films like The Bourne Legacy and John Wick, so his dexterity in the fight department is well known. In Atomic Blonde, our elegant agent is fighting the bad guys in designer clothes with perfectly choreographed moves. The action is raw as the camera draws back to give you the full view of what’s happening rather than those irritating close ups of action where you can’t make out what’s going on. There’s blood, broken bones, cuts, gashes, black eyes and all on display so that you’re never in doubt about how brutal this business can be. Certainly no James Bond with his suit in perfect condition after a fight.
The look and feel of the film with its greys and 80s sets, props and music is top notch. But one can’t help but think how the action and music are doing most of the heavy lifting. The plot becomes irrelevant as the stylistic filming and over the top action scenes take centre stage. There is no real mystery here and even the ‘twist’ at the end, which you see coming makes little sense since it hasn’t been set up at all well.
Charlize and McAvoy are pretty much how they are in every other film. Only Sofia Boutella really dazzles with her emotional portrayal of the French agent who falls for Broughton in the messy spy tango that unfolds. She’s both sexy and interesting, unlike Charlize’s agent who engenders no pity, excitement or enchantment.
To me the film was relevant because of one line – not the dialogue – but something that is on the wall of a nightclub that says: ‘What you want is on the other side of fear’. I have a feeling that wasn’t an accident to have that there. Atomic Blonde is an interesting and stylised version of a spy thriller without any real mystery or satisfying denouement.