MOVIE REVIEW: Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton a British Intelligence Agent who is sent to Berlin as the Wall is about to fall in 1989.  She has to retrieve a list of Intelligence Officers and their actions during the cold war before it goes to the wrong hands.  When you don’t know who you can trust in a world of deception there is going to be trouble.

When the first trailer hit for Atomic Blonde a few months ago I nearly broke my rule of not watching trailers, but only nearly, it turned out that I didn’t need to watch the trailer, as everyone I knew had watched it and was in a rush to tell me all about it.  It sounded like a mix of Jason Bourne meets John Wick and that Charlize was the lead.  I was sold.  I know that I don’t pay for seeing movies anymore but I would have happily paid my own cash, limited as it is, to see a film with that description.  After viewing the film though I’m not too sure that I’d be so happy to pay entry to a cinema.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly fine action  film with Charlize blistering the screen with the inherit sexuality that she has in buckets.  There are moments that I felt that I was watching a soft core porn film rather than a 80’s set cold war thriller.  Not that I’m complaining about that.  The music is great with some great reworking of classic 80’s tunes, although they pick songs from the early 80’s rather than the late 80’s.  This is done to highlight the time more, when you get to 89 the music is more 90’s than 80’s if you get my meaning.  There are a lot of references that to the casual viewer will be fine, but any old farts like me will just be very picky about this stuff.  The editing of this film, in particular the fight scenes, is good.  The fight scenes are well done too, but could have shown a little more of the blood and gore, also the slick motion that the first John Wick film showed is slightly tarnished here.

The biggest problem is that with a cast that includes Toby Jones, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, and James McAvoy you don’t care about the characters as they go through the hell of the cold war in Berlin.  The double and double double crosses that go on leave you confused as to who is doing what to who and it’s hard to keep track.  There is a traitor in the British Intelligence Service called Satchel and not enough is made of point out what exactly they have done to warrant the ill feelings generated.  There is also a lot of story thrown off to one side to make way for sultry looks and seeing Charlize walking towards or from the camera.

This should have been the launching pad of the character, and maybe it would make a great TV show.  Charlize is amazing in the role, it seems like a hand and glove moment, but the structure of the film is based more on the style than the substance.  The lesbian love-making scene while intense felt jammed into the film for the sake of having a back up to the story not being as strong as it should have been.  For action fans you’re going to have an enjoyable film, but after we’ve had the first John Wick film which redefined action movies for the new century, anything short of that is going to feel half-hearted.  Would I watch it again?  Well yes, but is it the best thing in the world? Sadly no.  It’s enjoyable enough and once you can forgive the ill-timed references you’re bound to enjoy the film.

Director:  David Leitch
Writers: Kurt JohnstadAntony Johnston, Sam Hart
Stars: Charlize TheronJames McAvoyJohn Goodman & more….. See full cast & crew

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