Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde

In Theatres: 
Jul 28, 2017
Running Time: 
115 minutes

After co-directing the stylish John Wick, David Leitch has exchanged guns for fists and Keanu Reeves for Charlize Theron in his solo directorial debut, Atomic Blonde. What does remain intact are the expertly choreographed fight sequences that forgo the glitz and glamour in favor of more intense and brutal action. Unlike John Wick, though, Atomic Blonde’s lackluster story is more of a hindrance than an asset, keeping the film from reaching its full potential.


Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is one of the best spies working for Britain’s MI6, and her latest mission sends her to Berlin on the eve of the Berlin Wall collapse in 1989. She is to meet up with fellow spy David Percival (James McAvoy) and recover a secret list that contains all agents from across the globe and their allegiances. In the wrong hands, this list could result in countless deaths. Getting possession of the list isn’t going to be easy, and with every spy on the hunt, Lorraine is going to have to smash plenty of faces in if she is going to survive this mission.


As a fan of John Wick’s style of action, I had high expectations going into Atomic Blonde. I wanted the female version of Wick who gives fists to the head rather than bullets. Instead, Lorraine is more like Jason Bourne only without the shaky cam. And while that’s not a bad thing, the film does slow to a crawl as it tries to figure out who’s screwing over who when all I wanted was to see Charlize Theron put the beat down on everyone she encounters.The story is its weakest element. I simply didn’t care who was a friend and who was a foe. By the end, it doesn’t really matter anyway because they’re constantly changing at the drop of the hat. There are so many twists and turns in the film that it’s difficult to keep track of what’s going on by the third act. And while the score is great, I felt that the 80’s electric tracks were primarily used to keep the adrenaline pumping during otherwise dull scenes. Even walking looks cool when you’re doing it to an amped up version of New Order’s “Blue Monday.”


That being said, Theron is excellent in the role. Mad Max: Fury Role showcased how much of a badass she is, and she continues her trail of destruction in Atomic Blonde. The fact that it’s actually her doing the vast majority of the stunts means Leitch is able choreograph some amazing fight scenes without having to revert to “movie magic” to make it look believable. It’s looks real because it is.


This isn’t more evident than in the stairwell fight scene towards the end. This 8-minute “one shot” is the absolute highlight of the film and showcases just how awesome Leitch and Theron can be when they’re focused solely on the action. It’s a brutal fight that goes from a stairwell to an apartment to a car chase, and it’s made to appear as one take. Theron isn’t a superhero who just plows through one bad guy after another. She takes a beating, just like the rest, and it’s clearly visible as she can barely stand let alone fight by the end of things. This scene alone makes Atomic Blonde worth the price of admission. I just wish the rest of the film was as good.


Atomic Blonde is far from being the atomic bomb of action I was hoping for. The fight sequences are top notch, but it’s the moments in between that kill the momentum. There just wasn’t enough, as I actually think every fight that’s in the film can be seen in some form across all the trailers. The potential for greatness is there, David Leitch just needs to figure out how to use it.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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