Charlize Theron teams up with James McAvoy in this spy vs spy, neon inspired film adaptation. Unfortunately, this “Atomic Blonde” failed to deliver any knock-out punches.
Set at the very end of the Cold War, Lorraine Broughton, an undercover MI6 agent, must head into Berlin to recover “The List”. The item contains all known agents and who they really work for. With spies and all round bad guys on every front, Lorraine must trust no one if she wants to find “The List” and make it out of Berlin alive.
Not unfamiliar with starring in the odd action flick (Mad Max, Aeon Flux), it’s not a terrible idea for Charlize Theron to jump back into another starring role.
Like a lot of films we are seeing these days Atomic Blonde is based on a graphic novel. While I haven’t read ‘The Coldest City’ I did get a sense of the origins of the film. The neon blue and red colours are quite prominent throughout and it nicely made the leap from paper to picture.
The action was somewhat sparing and uneventful.
While Charlize Theron is no doubt a capable action star, her action scenes make her seem like more of a survivor than a martial arts master.
Yes there are plenty of judo throws and household items used as melee weapons, but her beating up of random bad guys leaves you with little satisfaction. This is not at all helped by the East German vs West German vs Russian vs British tangled mess, making it easy to forget who is who.
At the start of the film when the Bowie track “Cat People” drops, I’m thinking I’m in for a slaughter fest like last time I heard that track in a film (Tarrantino’s Inglorious Basterds).
When it has the John Wick tag comparison you kind of expect non-stop gratuitous violence. To be denied that with drawn out uneventful meetings and gaps of Lorraine wandering around the city you are left wanting.
James Bond, Ethan Hunt, Jason Bourne, these spies all have something Lorraine Broughton doesn’t…
Personality. Charlize Theron is very far from lighting up the screen. Wandering through Berlin (East or West I couldn’t keep track), she makes very few connections, save for James McAvoy’s untrustworthy undercover agent David Percival, and French spy and “love” interest Delphine.
These connections are dead ends, and aside from some supposed “feelings” she displays in the end towards the superfluous Delphine, she remains a dead fish most of the film.
With the combination of these boring characters popping in and out of existence and the slow progression of the main story, Charlize Theron is left with little to work with. Her spy face and discrepancy do no favours to her character.
The overall look of Atomic Blonde is great and inspired, however, for an action film it doesn’t really deliver. The boring characters don’t even get much time to grow and leave you lacking any empathy.
While I don’t doubt Atomic Blonde will be successful, don’t be pulled in by the inaccurate John Wick comparison.