By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
David Leitch, who made his directorial debut with John Wick, has now taken his action sensibilities and brought it to a Cold War, espionage story. Atomic Blonde not only takes on the 80s spy world, it also tells the story through a badass female protagonist. The film had its world debut at this year’s SXSW Film Festival where it proved to entertain audiences. Though the movie doesn’t really bring much new to the espionage action thriller, it does offer some incredible and intense action sequences and gives its star the opportunity to shine brightly.
Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, one of MI6’s most talented agents who gets sent to Berlin to discover the motives behind the murder of a fellow agent and former lover. She is forced to work with MI6 wild card David Percival (James McAvoy), an agent who loves his job way too much. As the Cold War is set to end, Broughton and Percival must take action before an espionage ring gets a hold of some information vital to Western intelligence.
Based on the graphic novel, The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart, writer Kurt Johnstad and director David Leitch have crafted an intense and entertaining wild ride which mostly relies on its incredible action sequences and not so much its story. Don’t get me wrong; the story is fine, but is nothing exceptional when it comes to spy thrillers. What is most impressive are the action sequences which are sure to leave audiences breathless.
Leitch, his cinematographer Jonathan Sela, editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, and the fight choreographers have really outdone themselves with the fight scenes and other action sequences which indicate tremendous skill and are presented with style and flair. The score by Tyler Bates and the 80s songs selected for the movie definitely add to the experience and make the scenes more intense and exciting. Fans of pop music from the 1980s will especially enjoy these moments and will probably want to seek out the movie’s soundtrack afterward.
Though the movie’s scenes are well crafted and choreographed, they certainly wouldn’t work as well without the people in them. Charlize Theron is definitely the star of this show and she truly throws herself into this role with supreme coolness, pure badassery, and fiery intensity when it comes to action. Should Leitch or anyone else make a sequel to this film, I do not want to see anyone else in this role, because I simply cannot see anyone do better.
Though Theron’s the star of the film, James McAvoy does his best to shine as brightly and he mostly succeeds. McAvoy portrays the sleazy and untrustworthy Percival with much glee and wickedness. He is a blast to watch on screen and is so good at portraying a slightly likable scoundrel. The film also can boast great performances by Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, James Faulkner, Roland Møller, and Sofia Boutella.
Even though I gave this movie only a three star rating, I still highly recommend that people seek it out for at least an afternoon matinee. The film is so thrilling and entertaining that the lackluster story development is easily forgivable. As indicated by John Wick and Atomic Blonde, David Leitch knows how to deliver the action goods. As indicated by Mad Max: Fury Road and Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron knows how to embody steely coolness and pure badassery.