Oscar winner Charlize Theron explodes into summer in “Atomic Blonde,” a breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.
The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.
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“Atomic Blonde” is directed by David Leitch (“John Wick,” upcoming “Deadpool 2”). Also starring John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones, the film is based on the Oni Press graphic novel “The Coldest City,” by Antony Johnston & illustrator Sam Hart.
Ivey: This week the Richmond Reviewers screened ‘Atomic Blonde‘, starring Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton, British super spy.
Fonseca: This movie had me interested as soon as I saw that it was an action movie starring Charlize Theron.
Ivey: What interested me was that it was a stylishly-photographed action/spy thriller with Theron, one of the best actresses of our generation.
Fonseca: At first it seemed she was just another pretty face, but Monster and many other roles proved that that was not the case.
Ivey: What I didn’t realize about this film was that it was set in 1989, with the fall of communism as a background plot.
Fonseca: The trailers led me to believe that she would be a female James Bond, but it didn’t have that feel. I didn’t know about the time period or the locations either, although the time period lends itself to a great soundtrack of 80s tunes. I love that it uses New Order, Depeche Mode and others from the New Wave era.
Ivey: Along for the ride is James McAvoy as a sneezy/maybe double agent. Toby Jones and John Goodman round out the names that most fans would recognize
Fonseca: There are few other actors people would recognize, but not know the actor’s names, like Eddie Marsan.
Ivey: I enjoyed seeing Til Schweiger, who some may recognize from Inglorious Basterds
Fonseca: The film is based on a graphic novel, but like many of these movies, its based on one Ive never heard of called Coldest City.
Having just been to Berlin recently, I thought it was cool that most of the movie takes place in Berlin before the wall came down.
Ivey: I think they did a good job showing both sides of the wall, however it quickly became confusing which side was which. They attempted to keep the audience abreast with spray-paint geographic designations, but I think they could’ve used another device to add clarity.
But I’m not surprised since this is just David Leitch’s third film… ever!
Fonseca: The cinematography was good, but I was annoyed by the dark filter over everything. I wondered if Zack Snyder had directed this. Maybe if it had just been in certain scenes, but I found this obscured a bit too much.
Ivey: Well, the DP did work on Max Payne and the latest Transformers movie…
Fonseca: Apparently Leitch has more experience as a stunt man in the movies than anything else.
His stunt work may explain how well the action and fight scenes came off in this movie.
Ivey: Yes, including an incredible action sequence that was helped by a few camera tricks and CGI. It’s probably the worth the price of admission alone. It certainly garnered the most amount of emotion from the audience during the whole film!
Fonseca: Yes, a few of the scenes were very well done without having to resort to the dreaded “shaky cam”. Some might think it adds to the realism, but I usually find it more obnoxious than anything. The fight scenes in general are a highlight. I applaud the director, Charlize, and her stunt woman on these.
Ivey: I expected nothing less than the folks who worked on John Wick, one of the better action films in the last few years.
Fonseca: I am embarrassed to admit that I haven’t seen John Wick or John Wick 2, yet. They are on the top of my viewing list, though. So how do you rate Atomic Blonde?
Ivey: Everything was firing on all cylinders except for the story, which wasn’t the same quality as the rest of the film.
Fonseca: It makes me wonder if that is the fault of the screenwriter or if that is how the original story went?
Ivey: I guess the only way to find out is to get a white-page copy of the script.
Ivey: Sometimes it reminded me of Drive, other times Confessions of a Dangerous Mind… but lived up to neither. Drive for the music, Confessions for the cold war feel. Regardless, I’ll give Atomic Blonde a 3 out of 5. How about you, Mike?
Fonseca: This movie has all the ingredients, but rather than being greater than the sum of its parts, it just struck me tha it was missing something. Paprika, perhaps.
Ivey: Maybe a twist of lime with the Stoli on the rocks?
Fonseca: I suspect men will enjoy it more than women. Between the violence and the Charlize dialed up to 11, I suspect this movie will do well. I also give it a 3 out of 5.