WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
Hollywood seems to be going all in on the idea that whatever men can do, women can do it to…no matter how bad it is and how bad it bombs in the box office. Female action movies are the current trend, in the span of one week we have a female spinoff of John Wick coming, the trailer for Taraji P. Henson’s new assassin flick Proud Mary was released, and here we have the opening of Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde. Now I’ve heard many people complain about this film based on the fact they cannot buy a 130-pound woman beating up men 3x her size, while I do agree to a degree, I’ll leave the science of this film to people like Steven Crowder. I decided to take an objective view on the film and take for it what it is. The result of the movie was…pretty good.
Atomic Blonde is set in the year 1989 just days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. A secret list of spies has been concealed in a wristwatch that could expose major assets for multiple governments and put many lives at risk. MI6 decides to call in Lorraine Broughton (Theron), a top-level spy to receive the item and assassinate a double agent named Satchel who is secretly working for the Russians feeding them intel. While in Berlin, she enlists the help of MI6 undercover agent David Percival (James McAvoy) who is so kooky and eccentric meaning she can’t fully trust him. With mere hours before the fall of communism in Germany, Broughton is on the clock to get the list and return to London before the underbelly of East Germany takes her out.
Something you’ll notice right away with this film is that it is very stylish. The comparisons to John Wick are inevitable but are completed warranted since the same director and cinematographer of the first John Wick movie are presented in this one. The bright colors and illuminating subtitles minutes into the film’s opening gives you a John Wick feel to it. Despite the work that was put into the stunt choreography, the action isn’t quite as crisp as John Wick however. The slow pace of the film doesn’t allow the high-octane action to grab the attention of the audience until the third act.
While the setup of the story is intriguing, the film loses steam in the 2nd act and the dialogue really begins to drag the quality down. A lot of verbal diarrhea happens all to set up a triple-cross involving the character of Satchel. While the twist ending is pretty good, the road to getting there could have been so much better. Sofia Boutella is back fresh on the heels of leading the critical flop The Mummy remake and honestly, she is criminally underused here. Not only that, but I would have to believe as a French spy, she would have died much sooner than she did in the film due to incompetence. James McAvoy delivers as he usually does, James proves once again that few in Hollywood can bring a colorful character to life like he can. As for the lead, Charlize Theron is good, but not great. Her role is very monotone and really doesn’t allow her to do much, but be emotionless and show off what she learned in combat training.
Atomic Blonde is a surprisingly decent action flick despite the shortcomings of its screenplay. The film has a great touch of 80s pop music and the style does wonders for carrying the narrative. Shortcomings aside the potential for a franchise is there, let’s just get some better writers to match the directing and choreography next time around.
OFFICIAL RATING: ***