Title – Atomic Blonde (2017)
Director – David Leitch (John Wick)
Cast – Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Til Schweiger, Bill Skarsgård
Plot – Sent to Berlin during the Cold War to uncover a list of secret agents that can’t fall into the wrong hands, M16 agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) must fight her way through a city under-siege to accomplish her mission.
“I chose this life, and someday it’s going to get me killed. But not today”
Review by Eddie on 07/05/2018
Atomic Blonde wants to be the female John Wick (it even shares one half of John Wick’s direction team in the form of filmmaker David Leitch) but this stylistically shot yet often unengaging action affair adapted from a cult graphic novel series, is a film that tries too hard to be cool, coming off then as a wannabe, rather than a genuine contender for John Wick’s female lead partner in butt-kicking crime.
As if she needed to prove to us that she can match it with the boys after her brilliant Furiosa performance in Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron is perfectly cast as M16 super-agent Lorraine Broughton, tasked to head to Berlin during the heat of the East/West tensions of 1989 and recover a secret list of undercover agents before it falls into the wrong hands.
Theron’s Broughton is like the daughter of Jason Bourne and John Wick (if that were a possibility) as she fights and shoots her way through a plethora of generic goons, wisecracks and defies logic in her quest for survival.
The action of Atomic Blonde is directed proficiently, a highlight being an extended sequence in an apartment building that eventually turns into a fight on the roads and you will absolutely believe that Theron can take it to any baddie’s brave enough to take her on but the biggest problem with Leitch’s film is that Lorraine is a bit of a wet-blanket when it comes to charisma and charms, while writer Kurt Johnstad’s rather unnecessarily loaded plot-line is sometimes too convoluted and tiresome to truly get invested in.
Films like John Wick understand what their audiences want from their experience with the film, they want action, they want thrills and they want it thick and fast and far too often Atomic Blonde takes detours into uninteresting strands, while surprisingly for a film mooted as an action blast, there are often large periods of time where the action disappears for far too long.
Another disappointing element to Leitch’s film is the underusing of solid supports like James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones and Eddie Marsan. All fine performers, the collection of recognisable stars bring nothing of note to a film crying out for more memorable and engaging characters, making Atomic Blonde feel like just another action experience rather than an exceptional one.
Final Say –
Willingly and energetically lead by its leading lady, Atomic Blonde wants desperately to be cool and while it has its moments, Leitch’s film is far too bland in a large portion of its delivery to be anything more than a pretty distraction. The search for the female John Wick therefore continues to rage on.
2 sets of car keys out of 5