Charlize Theron is the action star movies need right now and over the past couple years she has more than delivered on her action bona fides. First she stole Mad Max: Fury Road from star Tom Hardy and now she gets her own full-blown, no-holds-barred, bone-crushing thriller, Atomic Blonde.
Purely as a spectacle, Atomic Blonde is a blast from start-to-finish, weaving moments of intrigue in between Theron breaking the bones of anyone who crosses her path. She stars as Lorraine Broughton, a MI6 agent, who has been brought in for questioning by her superiors (Toby Jones and John Goodman) after a mission went sideways. The movie begins in a dimly lit interrogation room and works backwards through the events that put her in that room.
“…a parade of sketchy characters and double crosses.”
Lorraine was sent to Berlin to investigate the murder of an agent and retrieve a list, which contains the names of different agents’ identities. From the moment her stiletto hits the ground in Berlin, she is clearly not welcomed and already getting in some brutal fights. She partners up with the strange and questionable David Percival (James McAvoy), who she barely trusts from the moment they meet.
Atomic Blonde is a parade of sketchy characters and double crosses, sometimes getting in the way of itself. Eddie Marsan shows up as Spyglass, who might have some important information regarding the list, and Sofia Boutella plays Delphine Lasalle, a French spy with a romantic infatuation for Lorraine. Marsan has long been a reliable character actor but it was nice for Boutella to have a role that allowed her to do a bit more than what the lousy The Mummy offered her.
“Atomic Blonde is about the action and director David Leitch offers just the right amount to make the movie breathtakingly entertaining…”
But this is Theron’s film and nobody better get in her way. Lorraine is a stoic, no-nonsense character, who conveys so much rage and anger with the mere flicker of her eye. Once she is engaged in combat, a fierce fighter is unleashed and Theron revels in every face she dents and every bullet she fires. This is a rare movie that lets the star get bruised and battered, walking away from fights with more than just that movie star scratch on her face. She wears every black eye with pride because they other guy most likely didn’t get up after their fight.
At the end of the day, Atomic Blonde is about the action and director David Leitch offers just the right amount to make the movie breathtakingly entertaining. While Leitch was an uncredited director for John Wick, this is technically his first film and his years of stunt work come in handy to capture the well-choreographed mayhem.
Atomic Blonde doesn’t reinvent the wheel and never really tries to. It occasionally gets tangled in its own web but it accomplishes what it set out to do.
Atomic Blonde (2017). Directed by: David Leitch. Written by: Kurt Johnstad. Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella and Eddie Marsan.