Atomic Blonde Review: Charlize Theron Once Again Kicks Ass

Got a spy thriller? Have a female action star? Got a spy thriller with a female action star? Well, this is what we have. Everybody’s saying that Atomic Blonde is the female version of John Wick. Could that be true with this latest spy thriller that we have before summer cools down? Well, we can’t be that really cool action movie, right?

On the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality, and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on an impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to retrieve a priceless dossier from within the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through a deadly game of spies.

Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde (2017)

From the trailers (especially the red band trailer), I was excited about Atomic Blonde because made it look like it was going to be this kick-ass spy thriller that’s going to have the same feeling of John Wick. And since this is directed by David Leitch (co-director of the first John Wick and Deadpool 2), maybe his style could really fit in this universe that’s based on Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s 2012 graphic novel, The Coldest City. What I can say about this is that his style for this was very cool using the type of neon color scheme that just looks nice in about anything. And in here, this makes it a good-looking film.

The action here was handled very well. All of the sequences were put together well and I would figure from a director who was a stunt coordinator.  Without a doubt, the best scene in the entire movie is this one-take stairwell fight that was just incredible watching it unfold. Everybody who’ve seen it before it was actually released said it was outstanding, and it was. It was at that moment where it felt like John Wick.  That was the one moment where it was very exciting. You’re just waiting for the next action scene to kick in.

Theron is fully committed to this performance and just proves that she’s totally badass. She does a great job in her action scene as it looked like she did her own stunts becoming her physical, which was unexpected. This really caught my attention to really notice that she’s a great action star. Worked well for her as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, and she works great in this. McAvoy was also fine in his role. He’s really good in anything he’s in even though I didn’t like what his character went through later on.

But the rest of the film couldn’t really grab my attention. My biggest issue that Atomic Blonde has on its hands is the story is convoluted and messy. This is told from a nonlinear narrative as Theron’s character is telling this story to Tobey Jones and John Goodman. But honestly, this was a very confusing plot to follow because there are some twist and turns that don’t make sense and it’s a story that’s been told many times before just like some Jack Ryan storyline. The script doesn’t necessarily gives a chance to give some background on the motivations of the other characters and doesn’t give that much development on Lorraine. After it was over, I’m still struggling what the actual plot was.

And this wouldn’t be this much of an issue, but the music was a distracting. For someone who loves 80s music, they used it a little too much to really incorporate the fact that this takes place in the late 1980s. Sometimes it’s fine, but other times it doesn’t fit into the scene because of the way it’s edited. Like there’s one action scene that’s cool but it’s set to George Michael’s Father Figure. Plus, they did waste the opportunity to use Atomic by Blondie in the entire film. This wasn’t on the level of Suicide Squad to where the music in that was very annoying, but it could’ve been handled better.

In the end, Atomic Blonde was a letdown because this should’ve been an awesome action movie that I wanted to love, and even though there are pros to being accounted for, it suffers a lot from what’s surrounding it to end up being alright. There is a better movie somewhere in here, but it couldn’t find its way.

Atomic Blonde fulfilled on the action and Theron’s performance. Unfortunately, the confusing storytelling made a disappointment.

Grade: C+


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