Atomic Blonde- Movie Review
A while ago there’d been a report that some studio somewhere was planning to reboot the James Bond franchise with a female 007. It’s uncertain whether it was a false story or totally legit, but the idea does bring up an interesting point. With all the kick-ass leading female characters we’ve gotten so far, why don’t add a super-spy into the mix? Someone with great physicality, charisma, and a sexual allure equal to that of James Bond. But a character that stands one her own, and who doesn’t stem from the shadow of an ultimate masculine icon. Someone that I was hoping to see in David Leitch’s new spy thriller, Atomic Blonde.
The year is 1989. The Cold War is coming to a close. Expert MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), is dispatched to Berlin to retrieve a list of Soviet spies and assassinate a mysterious double agent who’s been selling intelligence to the Soviet Union. Her mission gets complicated when she teams up with Percival (James McAvoy), an eccentric station chief, and a French operative named Delphine (Sofia Boutella).
There are plenty of things to like about Atomic Blonde. For one, it has Charlize Theron as an awesome, gorgeous, and kick-ass leading lady. She’s not the most layered character, but neither was the original James Bond so I don’t think you can fault her for that. James McAvoy is fun as always, and Sofia Boutella turns in a good performance despite being criminally underused. The cinematography is beautifully stylized, with pulsating neon lights, a cool 80’s soundtrack, and action sequences- choreographed by the same people who worked on John Wick– that make you feel the impact of every punch.
With all that said, you’d think that I’d walk out of this movie absolutely loving it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. In fact, I left a little disappointed. It’s not a bad film by any means. Not even close. But it does lack a certain magic quality that would have elevated it above just being okay.
And I think the root of the issue is the story itself. It is really boring. I mean, really boring. Badly written? Not necessarily. But it got to the point where I accidentally took a five to ten minute nap in the middle of the movie. And that’s never a good sign. There’s little to no a sense of urgency, and because of that, there isn’t a lot of tension or suspense. The only hint of it exists in a cool, elongated action sequence that happens in the third act. Besides that, the plot just isn’t interesting. It doesn’t help that the story gets needlessly convoluted as it draws to a close, and because it’s told in a non-linear fashion, you already know the fate of Theron’s character long before she sets out on her mission.
It’s frustrating, really. Atomic Blonde has seeds of greatness in it, but it’s buried so far beneath a dull narrative and an in-your-face style that it fails to reach its full potential. It’s fun to look at, but not really to pay attention to. Does that make sense? Even though I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to, I still think you should check it out. Despite its faults, I do hope Atomic Blonde makes enough money at the box office to warrant the possibility of a sequel. I love the style. I love the action. I want to learn more about these characters and how the world they live in works. If given a second chance and a better story, Atomic Blonde could be something truly special.
Cosmic Grade: 3.4 out of 5 Stars