Possible spoilers ahead!
Just before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, secret agent James Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave) is killed on the streets of Berlin by Russian operative Yuri Bakhtin (Jóhannes Jóhannesson). MI6 heads Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and Chief C (James Faulkner) send their best agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) to locate Bakhtin and recover the classified list of names of intelligence organizations he stole.
Once in Germany, Broughton meets up with her contact, David Percival (James McAvoy), and the two form an uneasy alliance. From the moment she lands in Berlin, Lorraine Broughton suspects that not all is what it seems, and is forced to navigate through a web of deception, and death, unsure of who she can trust.
“Atomic Blonde” is based on the graphic novel “The Coldest City,” by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart.The film adaptation is the first solo directorial outing by “John Wick” co-helmsman David Leitch, and it stars Charlize Theron and James McAvoy. That’s a lot of talent for one movie, the end result is mostly positive. However, I won’t lie to you, “Atomic Blonde does” have some problems.
My biggest problem with “Atomic Blonde” was the plot. I don’t mind the Late 1980’s Berlin setting, or the overuse of 80’s music. What I didn’t like was that all the characters were after a list of agents. This has been done in the first “Mission Impossible, and even in “Skyfall.” The gag is old, and spy movies should come up with something new.
Another problem with the film was the uneven editing. During the fight scenes, and some of the quieter scenes, the editing is spot on. One of my favorite scenes was a car chase in East Berlin where the editing was awesome. But towards the end of the movie, the editing went wonky for some reason. Some shots were longer than they needed to be, and at one point I wondered how a character got there.
Where “Atomic Blonde” shines the most, is in its lead star. Charlize Theron once again proves once again that she is more than capable of carrying an action film on her own. She portrays Lorraine as a no-nonsense veteran spy and she handles the physical action like few others can.
Theron does most of her own stunts, making the final product even better. The staircase scene will stand out to most, but my personal favorite was the earlier scene in the apartment building against the cops. I have no idea how theron moved like that in those boots.
Another thing I liked about the performance was how Theron played Lorraine as a fun character, who enjoys the perks of the job. But also one who is well aware of her shortcomings. But she still human enough to care about others, like French spy Sofia Boutella. These two worked well of each other, and yeah they had chemistry.
When it comes to the supporting cast, James McAvoy is the standout. He delivered a character you’re not sure you want to root for. But every time he pops up he’s good for a laugh or two. This was another solid performance from McAvoy.
Despite some flaws, “Atomic Blonde” is a stylish, action thriller, punctuated by a strong performance by Charlize Theron. It’s because of her that I loved this movie, not because it’s the best spy movie ever (clearly it’s not), but because Theron crafted one of the coolest secret agents in movies. She’s not the female 007, or John Wick, she’s simply Lorraine Broughton, and I can’t wait to see more of her!
“Atomic Blonde” final score: B