Director: David Leitch
Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, Roland Møller, and Toby Jones
Atomic Blonde from 2017 is based upon The Coldest City, a comic by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. It feels like a comic with it’s flashy visuals and stylish action, but beyond that it’s missing an interesting story that keeps you engaged through its sluggish pacing and overly long runtime.
Days before the fall of the Berlin Wall an agent carrying a list of every undercover operative on both sides is killed. Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is sent into Berlin to reclaim the list, with the help of David Percival (James McAvoy). Her cover is blown almost immediately, and any plans of a stealthy mission go out of the window as soon as she gets of the plane.
The opening scene, which shows the original agent holding the list being killed is a shock to the senses. It’s brutal and quick with no warning it’s going to happen. It sets up the raw and personal action that continues throughout the film, almost immediately afterwards the film fails to live up to the greatness the opening suggests.
The action is great, with some impressive choreography and long shots that make you feel like your up close and personal with the fist fights and gun-fu that John Wick would be proud of. You can almost feel every bullet as it connects, every punch and kick lands with an energetic thwap that’s thrilling to watch.
It’s just whenever there’s no fighting, the film falls completely flat. The story just isn’t interesting in the slightest. There are a lot of twists and turns, but they don’t land, because it’s almost impossible to care. It’s espionage without any of the intrigue or excitement. Both Charlize Theron and James McAvoy do the best they can with the boring characters that were written, but they can’t save a dull script. They both are great at the action; it just takes too long between the fights.
The pacing is incredibly slow, so that the just under two hours runtime feels about double that. It’s going for a dark and gritty tone, with a splash of comic book style, but it just doesn’t work. There’s an incredible soundtrack, with so many classics, but it doesn’t do much to lift the film. Rather than being on the edge of your seat, apart from when there’s action happening, you’ll be laid back so far that you’re at risk of nodding off.
Shallow and unengaging, Atomic Blonde misses in almost every way. The soundtrack is great, and the action choreography is excellent, but everything else is poor and incredibly boring. There has been word of a sequel, and hopefully it can improve because Charlize Theron is a great action star, and the fight scenes are the best bits.
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Good review. I actually liked this movie. Yes, it is a bit sluggish in its pacing and some ideas are a bit recycled, but I liked Theron in the lead role as well as McAvoy was great in it. Plus, the film’s soundtrack was solid.
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Thank you. I’m glad that you liked the film. I do really like Theron in the lead role, and completely agree about the soundtrack. If a sequel does happen, I’ll definitely watch it.
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You basically wrote the action is great, but the rest isn’t, six times.
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Thanks for reading, that pretty much sums it up.