Atomically good or Atomically bad? I review Atomic Blonde.
Written By: Rick Masters
Want a female lead John Wick with less gun play and an overly complicated plot then look no further than Atomic Blonde.
The film follows British spy Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) as she investigates the murder of a fellow agent and attempts to uncover a stolen list of double agents; it’s set in Berlin during the Cold War, just before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
First thing you notice with this film is that its ridiculously stylish, everything from the gorgeous intro credits to the retro, high–energy soundtrack, this film just oozes cool.
Theron is fantastic in this too, the cool headed agent plays her role brilliantly and John Goodman also gives a great performance. James McAvoy is excellent throughout but does risk over acting at times.
There’s a very good reason why this film is being compared to the excellent John Wick a lot and thats due to the director David Leitch. David is a stuntman, writer, producer, stunt coordinator and an uncredited co-director of the action scenes from the original John Wick. During (admittedly less frequent) action scenes in ATOMIC BLONDE his style is easy to see. Atomic Blonde is likely to be remembered for many years to come for one particular fight scene, known as the “Stairs Scene” the action is incredible, made even more impressive when you consider Charlie Theron did all her own stunts. Its gritty and brutal as the camera seemslessy moves around the battle in what feels like one long sweeping shot. It doesn’t let up either as the action spills out into the streets and straight into a thrilling car chase through Berlin city streets.
This long action scene not only looks stupidly good but also arguably saves the movie as a whole. Before this the movie seems to be plodding a little. The story squeezes in loads of twists and turns and many of them don’t make much sense. Prehaps it”s because I’m a dumb bastard but I got a little lost at numerous times thoughout and I became somewhat frustrated. I understood the main over-aching story but it kept throwing in curveballs which only distracted me from the action. And call me a prude but I found the swearing a little excessive at times.
The editing is neigh on perfect in this though and I love the way it cuts back and forth between Charlize telling her story. The camera-work and cinematography is impressive throughout, the film is littered with neon lights, 80s style and blasts of colour filtering through its dark blue tone.
A lot has been made of the lesbian relationship found within the film with its main protagonist and love interest Delphine Lasalle played by Sofia Boutella. Its handled well and avoids the pitfall of perviness, the innocence in Boutella’s character adds tenderness to it all. The chemistry between the two is excellent and a particular scene successfully got me feeling very hot under the collar, probably best I leave it there.
The idea of this becoming a female lead John Wick gets me very excited, it’s certainly left wide open for sequels and I would love to see this franchise continue.
Overall what lets this film down is its over-complicated and overstuffed narrative, however the soundtrack fits beautifully and the action scenes are outrageously fun! Not a classic but well worth the price of of admission (for the “Stars scene” alone!) A delightful cocktail of female badassery, crazy violence, and cool 80s vibes.